A new study has found that breastfeeding for at least six months has a protective effect against childhood obesity in children of mothers who had gestational diabetes.
Babies exposed to diabetes in utero are more likely to become obese as children.
U.S. News and World Report reports:
Among babies exposed to diabetes in utero, those who were breast-fed for six months or more were no more likely to put on extra weight when they were 6 to 13 years old than children whose mothers did not have diabetes during pregnancy, the investigators found.
The findings were the same across all ethnicities. However, this protective effect was not seen in babies who were breast-fed for less than six months.
"Since childhood obesity and in utero exposure to maternal diabetes have both been associated with later development of type 2 diabetes, it follows that breast-feeding these children may also help reduce their future risk for developing type 2 [diabetes]. However, further research would be needed to confirm that added protection," [lead researcher Dr. Dana] Dabelea added.
Recent research has also shown that, for mothers who have had gestational diabetes (and for all women), breastfeeding lowers mothers' risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of factors including abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, high inflammatory state, all of which significantly increase the risk of heart attack and Type II diabetes.