Moms who breastfeed may be protected from type 2 diabetes

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Researchers have demonstrated that breastfeeding a child for one year may reduce a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 15 percent. This study appeared in the Nov. 23, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We’ve known for a long time that breastfeeding is good for babies,” said lead author and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researcher Alison Stuebe, MD. “In this study, we found that it’s good for moms, too.”

The production of milk requires a breastfeeding mother to use an average of 500 calories each day – the equivalent of running four to five miles. According to Stuebe, the additional energy required for lactation is associated with short-term changes in insulin, and glucose. Her study was among the first to look at the long-term association between breastfeeding and incidence of type 2 diabetes. “Our study supports the theory that breastfeeding may be associated with important metabolic changes that influence diabetes risk,” she said. “However, more research is needed to determine what hormonal and biological factors are involved.”