Lactation May Protect Women Against Metabolic Syndrome

The longer they breast-feed, the less likely they may be to develop the syndrome after weaning

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Longer duration of breast-feeding can help women, particularly those who developed gestational diabetes mellitus, by reducing their risk of developing the metabolic syndrome, according to a study in the February issue of Diabetes

Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues conducted a study of 1,399 women aged 18 to 30 years enrolled in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. At baseline and prior to subsequent pregnancies none of the women had the metabolic syndrome. They were examined at baseline, and again at seven, 10, 15 and/or 20 years.

The researchers note that, of the 704 women who had babies, 84 developed gestational diabetes mellitus, while 620 did not. There were 120 incident cases of the metabolic syndrome in 9,993 person years, yielding an overall incidence rate of 12.0 per 1,000 person years -- 10.8 among those who did not develop gestational diabetes and 22.1 for those who did. The longer the women breast-fed, the less likely they were to develop the metabolic syndrome after weaning, and this association was stronger among women who had developed gestational diabetes, the investigators found.

"Further investigation is needed to elucidate the mechanisms through which lactation may influence women's cardiometabolic risk profiles, and whether lifestyle modifications, including lactation duration, may affect development of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes," the authors write.

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