Can Breastfeeding Lower Your Risk for Developing Type 2 Diabetes?

News of the Month 

A study conducted by Erica Gunderson, PhD, set out to assess the association between breastfeeding and risk for diabetes. This cohort study followed 1238 women for 30 years, beginning at the average age of 24 years. None of these women had diabetes at the start of the study, and each one gave birth to at least one baby during the duration of the study. By study end, 182 women were diagnosed with diabetes, and after adjusting for lifestyle factors, it was found that breastfeeding reduced the risk for diabetes. In women who breastfed for up to 6 months, there was a 25% decreased risk for diabetes; in women who breastfed for 6 to 12 months, there was a 48% decreased risk for diabetes; and in women who breastfed for 12 months, there was a 47% decreased risk for diabetes. The same associations were found for both obese women and for women who had gestational diabetes. One plausible reason for this, Dr. Gunderson mentioned, was because lactating women have lower levels of circulating glucose, which may help in preservation of the function of insulin-producing cells.

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This activity is supported by an educational grant from Sanofi US.