Bottom Line: Longer duration of breastfeeding was associated with lower risk of diabetes among mothers later in life.
Why The Research Is Interesting: Previous research identifying an association between lactation to breastfeed and protection against later diabetes was conducted in older women using self-reported diabetes. Women in the current study were younger, followed for 30 years, and screened for diabetes using laboratory testing.
Who and When: 1,238 women from a study of young black and white women ages 18 to 30 without diabetes at the start of the study (1985-1986) who had one or more live births, reported their lactation duration, and were screened for diabetes up to seven times during 30 years of follow-up (1986-2016)
What: Length of time of lactation was divided into 0 to 6 months, more than 6 month to 12 months, more than 12 months (exposures); diabetes (outcome)
How (Study Design): This is an observational study. Researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study and they cannot control for all the natural differences that could explain the study findings.
Authors: Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S., of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland, and coauthors
Results: Longer durations of lactation to breastfeed were associated with greater reductions in later-life diabetes risk for the mother.
Study Limitations: The study cannot explain the reasons behind the association.
Study Conclusions: This study provides evidence to support the hypothesis that lactation may lower risk of diabetes in women; these findings open new avenues into mechanisms leading to glucose intolerance.
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