More Breastfeeding Means Better Health for Mom

ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Feb 2017
Toddler breastfeeding
Photo: iStock

Making it to the six-month mark for breastfeeding is a big feat—and one year is even bigger. If the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to exclusively nurse for baby’s first six months wasn’t enough motivation to give it a go, a new study about the benefits for you just might be.

Researchers from Korea’s Hallym University found that mothers who breastfeed for longer than 12 months may lower their risk of metabolic syndrome—a group of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, it affects 23 percent of adults in the US.

This new study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, looked at 4,700 women segmented into four groups: those who breastfed for five months, 6-11 months, 12-23 months or more than 24 months. The conclusion? “Lifelong breastfeeding” for 12 months or more may be associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and associated disorders like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The term “lifelong breastfeeding” is especially promising. While nursing a child for a year is commendable, only 51.8 percent of babies are breastfed—even just partially—by 6 months. But this study reported the “total period of breastfeeding in a woman’s life,” meaning months of breastfeeding don’t have to be consecutive to have a positive impact on your health. Rather, it’s cumulative. For example, breastfeeding your first child for six months and your second child for six months may still yield those protective health benefits for you.

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