A study just published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology reports that breastfeeding is associated with a decrease in risk for metabolic syndrome in mothers.
What's metabolic syndrome? According the American Heart Association, it's a combination of factors including abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, high inflammatory state. These factors significantly increase the risk of heart attack and Type II diabetes.
The findings also showed that the duration of lactation was associated with significance of the risk reduction. It also found that this reduction waned after the fourth child.
Medwire News reports:
[Out of the 2,516 participants,] there were 536 (21.3 percent) cases of metabolic syndrome, with rates among women who breastfed of 18.3 percent, compared with 26.7 percent among those who did not.
After adjusting for age, current smoking, parity, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, study site, physical activity, caloric intake, and high school body mass index, women who breastfed were 23 percent less likely to develop the metabolic syndrome than those who did not.
The researchers also report that the duration of lactation was significantly associated with the metabolic syndrome, with the risk decreasing by 20 percent for each year of lactation.
In a way this isn't too surprising, given that previous studies have shown that breastfeeding is associated with lower levels of several of the components of metabolic syndrome. I've written before about the effect breastfeeding has on reducing the risk of heart attack, and controlling levels of cholesterol, insulin, and weight.