Extended Breastfeeding Linked to Reduced Diabetes Risk

Last week, the American Diabetes Association released some new findings stating that “intensive and extended breastfeeding lowered a woman’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy in which she had gestational diabetes.”Mother Breast Feeding Her Cute Blond Child in The Park.

There’s so much to unpack in those findings! My first questions were: what defines intensive breastfeeding? What defines extended breastfeeding?

In this research, intensive breastfeeding seems to mean just that babies were exclusively breastfed (or receiving no more than 6 ounces of formula per day). For this study, extended breastfeeding meant 14 months or longer.

By the time the study babies were 2 years old, the moms practicing extended, intensive breastfeeding were about 60% less likely to contract Type II Diabetes. That’s pretty significant!

Also of note: this research is showing that the act of breastfeeding is offering this protection for the nursing mother. In addition to all the wonderful benefits baby receives, this is a new bonus for moms who breastfeed!

The women in the study did not have diabetes prior to pregnancy, nor had they developed it up to 9 weeks postpartum. There were differences in results depending on how long the mothers breastfed, too.

The women that breastfed for 2 months to 6 months reduced their risk by 30%; those that did so for 6 to 14 months reduced their risk by 42%; and those that breastfed for more than 14 months reduced their risk by 58%.

Did you have gestational diabetes and go on to nurse your baby? Leave us a comment to share your experience.

1 comment to Extended Breastfeeding Linked to Reduced Diabetes Risk

  • Great article. I think one reason that this could be is that producing breast milk uses a lot of calories. When breastfeeding for two years, a mother is burning calories everyday allowing her to lower her overall BMI.

    Producing 1 oz of breast milk takes up about 26 calories a day and babies drink about 25 oz a day. That’s 650 calories just by breast feeding!

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