A new study out of Canada reinforces what some researchers already believe: new moms may reduce the risk of diabetes in themselves and their babies by breastfeeding. In this massive study, researchers at the University of Manitoba looked at nearly 335,000 births over a 24-year period in Manitoba, and the results reveal positive breastfeeding benefits for mother and child. Inside The Numbers
Dr. Garry Shen, of the University of Manitoba, noted how diabetes cases have increased rapidly in Canada, according to Endocrine News. This is especially the case among First Nations women, who are the various Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Shen’s team wanted to find out how breastfeeding affected women and children among First Nations and non-First Nations individuals by delving into births between 1987 and 2011. Researchers examined the prevalence of breastfeeding from hospital abstracts, and then used computer models to browse through the data. Incidences of diabetes were found from medical codes.
The study indicated an 18 percent lower frequency of type 2 diabetes among mothers of all ethnicities who breastfed their babies. Diabetes occurred 14 percent less often among First Nation mothers that breastfed and 23 percent less often among non-First Nation moms. In the study 56 percent of First Nation mothers breastfed compared to 83 percent of non-First Nation moms. The study noted that more must be done to educate First Nation mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding.
Building on Previous Research
Previous research backs up the assertion of the University of Manitoba’s study that breastfeeding may reduce the frequency of diabetes in women and children. A 2009 study from Kaiser Permanente followed 704 women for 20 years, and women who breastfed for nine months or more reduced their risk of diabetes by 56 percent. In women with gestational diabetes, the reduction of risk was 86 percent, notes WebMD.
Another study from Kaiser Permanente showed that women who exclusively breastfeed their children for at least two months after birth reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by 35 to 57 percent, compared to women who used formula six to nine weeks after giving birth. This study analyzed 1,035 women from 2008 to 2011, says Medical News Today. Researchers of this study suggest health care systems should have educational and support systems in place to tout the health benefits of breastfeeding.
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Why Breastfeeding Works
Some scientists hypothesize that breastfeeding “resets” a mother’s endocrine system, thereby optimizing a mother’s metabolism after birth, says Diabetes Stops Here. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers often lose belly fat faster after a pregnancy. Breastfeeding may also prevent mothers from overfeeding babies with formula. These encouraging studies should lead to more education and more awareness about breastfeeding and diabetes prevention among health care systems.