Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Reduced in Women Who Breastfeed

Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Reduced in Women Who Breastfeed

Benefits of breastfeeding continue to rise.

A newly released study has revealed women with gestational diabetes are only half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes within two years of delivery, if they continually breastfeed, according to an article on eurekalert.org.

The study, which involved more than 1,000 Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California that had been previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes between 2008 and 2011, is the first to measure breastfeeding on a monthly basis, following delivery and the first year afterwards.

The study, titled  Study of Women, Infant Feeding and Type 2 Diabetes after GDM Pregnancy, (SWIFT) also evaluated other risk factors, including social, behavioral and prenatal risks that could influence the development of type 2 diabetes.

Examinations of the women in the study included oral glucose testing and were conducted after six to nine weeks of delivery, and again at the one-year and two-year intervals.  The participants were diverse, with 75 percent being identified as Hispanic, Asian or African-American.

Approximately 12 percent of the women in the study developed type 2 diabetes within the two-year window.  The study revealed that mothers that exclusive fed their children formulas at six to nine weeks were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes, compared to those who exclusively breastfed.

Study lead author Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, MPH, MS, epidemiologist and senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, said both the level and duration of breastfeeding may offer unique benefits of protection against type 2 diabetes after delivery to those with gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

She also added the findings highlight the importance of breastfeeding for women with gestational diabetes, and plays an important role in early prevention efforts by health care systems.

One of the factors that make this new study so important is that the researchers were able to control for all the influences on breastfeeding and other types of risk factors.  The study took into account such influences such as obesity before pregnancy, weight gain during pregnancy, prenatal metabolism, treatment for gestational diabetes, C-section deliveries, infant size and birth outcomes, as well as race and ethnicity, and lifestyle behaviors.

The research team says the lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes in breastfeeding mothers still remained after taking all these factor into account.

The study from Kaiser Permanente was published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

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