New research has found that women who breastfeed are less likely to have heart disease, have a stroke, or die from cardiovascular disease than women who don’t breastfeed.
Scientists in Austria — who analyzed data on nearly 1.2 million mothers — say breastfeeding babies for 12 months or longer lowers the risk of developing these diseases.
According to research results, women who breastfeed have an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
On average, over a 10-year period, women who had breastfed were 14% less likely to have heart disease, 12% less likely to have a stroke, and 17% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
“It is important for women to know the benefits of breastfeeding, both for their babies and for their own health,” said Peter Willeit, study author and professor at the Medical University of Innsbruck, in Innsbruck, Austria.
Research analyzing data on 1.2 million mothers showed that breastfeeding reduced the risk of heart disease and stroke. (Getty Images)
Research on the relationship between and breastfeeding and the risk of heart disease was published in the scientific magazine the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).
Shelley Miyamoto, head of the heart health organization in the United States, said the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and children are well known, but mothers need to be kept informed that breastfeeding also provides health benefits for them.
“It’s very encouraging for mothers … to know that breastfeeding, apart from providing optimal nutrition to babies, at the same time, for mothers, breastfeeding also reduces the risk of heart disease,” Miyamoto said.
In this study, scientists analyzed eight studies conducted between 1986 and 2009 in Australia, China, Norway, Japan, and the United States. Also reviewed is a study involving many countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Agency for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended breastfeeding for at least the first six months of a baby’s life. (Getty Images)
Researchers say previous studies have not consistently shown a link between the length of breastfeeding and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Breastfeeding is also said to have other health benefits, including lowering the chances of developing diabetes, uterine cancer, and breast cancer.
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Agency for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended breastfeeding for at least the first six months, only one in four children in the US are exclusively breastfed during their first six months of life.
Maternal mortality in the US is the highest of any developed country and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause, according to data from the American Heart Association.