WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Chloe Jo Davis is a strong breastfeeding advocate.
The Wilton, Connecticut-based writer breastfed her three sons for years to ensure they got all the benefits associated with the practice.
“Breastfeeding helps boost children’s immune systems and ward off colds, viruses, ear infections and stomach bugs, and that’s more important now than ever with the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19,” said Davis, who counsels moms on breastfeeding through an online platform.
Now a new study of nearly 1.2 million women shows that Davis and other breastfeeding mothers can reap great health benefits themselves.
Compared to women who had babies but never breastfed, mothers who breastfed for a period of time were less likely to develop heart disease, have a stroke, or die of heart disease in during the 10 years of follow-up.
Previous studies have shown that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, but less is known about how breastfeeding affects a woman’s heart.
The new study wasn’t designed to say exactly how breastfeeding protects the heart, but the researchers have a few ideas.
“Breastfeeding may facilitate faster weight loss after childbirth, and this may be beneficial, as high weight is known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” the study author said. Lena Tschiderer, postdoctoral researcher at the Medical University of Innsbruck. in Austria.
Additionally, breastfeeding can help reset a woman’s metabolism.
“This includes resetting factors that are also associated with increased cardiovascular risk,” Tschiderer said.
For the study, her team analyzed information on nearly 1.2 million women in eight studies conducted between 1986 and 2009 across multiple countries. They looked at how long the women breastfed, how many children they had, their age at first birth and whether they had had a heart attack or stroke during follow-up.
Fully 82% have breastfed at some point, according to the report. These women were 11% less likely to develop heart disease; 12% less likely to have a stroke; and 17% less likely to die of heart disease over the 10 years of follow-up compared to mothers who never breastfed, the investigators found.
These benefits held true for women who breastfed indefinitely and appeared to be even greater for those who breastfed for up to a year. The study cannot say whether breastfeeding for even longer periods of time is more beneficial because there were not enough women in the study who breastfed for more than two years.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months of life.
The new study was published online Jan. 11 in a special pregnancy issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“This study was done in a very scientifically rigorous way, and that’s important because it means we can have pretty good confidence in the veracity of the results,” Dr Shelley Miyamoto said. She is chair of the Heart Association’s Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health. Miyamoto is also director of the cardiomyopathy program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora.
“If you’ve breastfed for a while, your heart benefits and there’s a gradual reduction in risk for up to a year,” said Miyamoto, who was not involved in the new study.
It’s time to make women’s lives easier breast-feedshe said.
“We really need to raise awareness and educate mothers and healthcare providers about the benefits of breastfeeding,” Miyamoto said. “New mothers need to think about this before giving birth to ensure access to lactation counseling where they give birth.”
She said it’s also important for women to talk to their employers about creating breastfeeding-friendly environments.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more information on the benefits of breastfeeding.
SOURCES: Chloe Jo Davis, founder, GirlieGirlArmy.com, Wilton, Connecticut; Lena Tschiderer, PhD, postdoctoral researcher, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria; Shelley Miyamoto, MD, chair of the American Heart Association’s Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in Youth, and Cardiomyopathy Program Director, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora; Journal of the American Heart AssociationJanuary 11, 2022, online
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