Breastfeeding 'dramatically cuts the risk' of mother getting diabetes
Mothers who breastfeed may be protecting themselves against diabetes in later life, research suggests.
Breastfeeding for one month can halve the risk of pre-diabetes, a condition which can lead to full-blown diabetes and heart disease, say researchers.
The 20-year study found mothers who did so had healthier levels of blood fats and glucose than those who were bottlefeeding.
The study of 704 women, who were all expecting their first child, looked at the development of Metabolic Syndrome, a pre-diabetes condition, in the two decades after they gave birth.
The findings, published in the journal Diabetes, showed breastfeeding lowered the risk by between 39 and 56 per cent depending on how long it lasted.
Women who developed gestational diabetes – where they have high blood glucose levels during pregnancy – got even greater protection in later life, with their risk of pre-diabetes cut by between 44 and 86 per cent.
Dr Erica Gunderson, of the Kaiser Permanente care organisation in California, said it was unclear exactly how breastfeeding affects the diabetes risk factors.
She said the effects did not appear to be due to differences in weight gain, physical activity or other health behaviours.
The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe, with almost one in three new mothers never attempting to breastfeed.