Breastfeeding lowers risk of heart disease and stroke in mothers, study finds

A large study of more than a million mothers showed that women who had breastfed their children had a lower risk of heart disease, stroke or death from these diseases later in life, compared to to women who have not.

Over an average follow-up period of about 10 years, researchers found that women who breastfed their children indefinitely had an 11% lower risk of heart or vascular disease, a 14% lower risk of heart disease, a 12% lower risk of stroke and a 17% lower risk of dying from these diseases.

The study was published in an issue of Journal of the American Heart Association who is dedicated to research on the impact of pregnancy on the heart health of mother and child.

Breastfeeding can be associated with good health for both mother and child. (Source: Getty/stock images)

“Breastfeeding is known to be associated with a lower risk of death from infectious disease and fewer respiratory infections in babies, as well as a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer and diabetes in mothers,” said Dr Tilak Suvarna, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.

The expert said the study shows “an additional benefit of breastfeeding, which is a reduced risk of heart disease or stroke, and dying of heart disease later in life in mothers who breastfed their children, than among mothers who did not”.

Dr. Suvarna clarified that although the study has some limitations and the results need to be validated, “it is one more reason to promote breastfeeding. The beneficial effects of breastfeeding need to be effectively communicated to mothers and to society as a whole.

“The mechanism of benefit may be due to the secretion of hormones during lactation that protect and benefit the heart, the weight loss associated with lactation and the reset of the maternal metabolism”, concluded the expert.

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