Could Breast-Feeding Have its Perks? – Women’s Health of Central Massachusetts

We would like to share this interesting article titled “Breastfeeding Helps Mom Stay Slimmer Later in Life” with you. This article was written and published by the Department of Health & Human Services, womenshealth.gov on March 8, 2010. Enjoy!

FRIDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) — The benefits of breast-feeding for infants are numerous and well-known, but researchers are finding more and more that breast-feeding can be a boon to mom’s health as well.

In fact, the latest study on the subject suggests that women who breast-feed have reduced amounts of abdominal fat, even decades later.

The study, which was scheduled to be presented Friday at an American Heart Association conference on cardiovascular health in San Francisco, found that middle-age women who consistently breast-fed their children had waist circumferences that were an average of 2.6 inches smaller than women who had never breast-fed.

“Belly fat is the least healthy place for women to store fat, and breast-feeding really seems to be targeting this bad fat,” said study author Candace McClure, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh.

Breast-feeding confers a host of benefits to infants, including a decreased risk of ear infections, asthma, stomach problems, respiratory illnesses, skin allergies, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In mothers, research has shown that breast-feeding might lower a woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression.

Recent research has found that women who breast-fed their children had less risk for heart disease and the factors known to contribute to it, such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Many experts have suspected that it’s not just the extra calorie expenditure of breast-feeding that’s helpful, but that breast-feeding helps women lose abdominal fat faster. Excess abdominal fat is a risk factor for heart disease.

To see what lasting effects breast-feeding might have on abdominal size, McClure and her colleagues reviewed data on 351 women who had participated in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation Heart Study, conducted from 2001 to 2003.

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