Health Desk-- June 24, 2017: A new study suggests women who breast-feed their babies may have a slightly lower risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke decades later.
Researchers found that among nearly 290,000 women in China, those who breast-fed were 10 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke later in life, versus women who bottle-fed their babies. How might breast-feeding help heart health?
One theory holds that breast-feeding helps “reset” a woman’s metabolism after pregnancy, according to lead researcher Sanne Peters.
She’s a research fellow in epidemiology at the University of Oxford in England. The study pointed out that women who breast-feed for a longer time tend to have lower odds of high blood pressure and diabetes, for example.
It’s not clear from this study’s findings if breast-feeding directly curbed women’s cardiovascular risks. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends breast-feeding exclusively for the first six months of life, and then continuing to breast-feed while gradually adding solid foods during the next six months. After that, the decision to continue breast-feeding is up to mom and baby, the AAP says.
Most of the women in the current study breast-fed their children for some period of time. The average time for breast-feeding was 12 months per child, the study said.