Washington: Mothers who don`t breastfeed
their children are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes
later in life, according to a new study.
The University of Pittsburgh study of more than 2,000
women found that those who didn`t breastfeed were twice as
likely to develop the disease compared to women who had
breastfed or never given birth.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of lifestyle
disorder which is characterised by high blood glucose in the
context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency.
While it is initially managed by increasing exercise and
dietary modification, medications are needed as the disease
progresses. Millions of people worldwide are suffering from
"We have seen dramatic increases in the prevalence of
type 2 diabetes over the last century," said lead researcher
Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, an assistant professor of medicine at
the University of Pittsburgh.
"Diet and exercise are widely known to impact the risk of
type 2 diabetes, but few people realise that breastfeeding
also reduces mothers` risk of developing the disease later in
life by decreasing maternal belly fat."
For their study, the researchers looked at 2,233 women
between the ages of 40 and 78. Of them, about 56 per cent of
mothers reported they had breastfed an infant for at least one
They found that 27 per cent of mothers who did not
breastfeed developed type 2 diabetes and were almost twice as
likely to develop the disease as women who had breastfed or
never given birth.
In contrast, mothers who breastfed all of their children
were no more likely to develop diabetes than women who never
gave birth. These long-term differences were notable even
after considering age, race, physical activity and tobacco and
"Our study provides another good reason to encourage
women to breastfeed their infants, at least for the infant`s
first month of life," said Dr Schwarz.
"Clinicians need to consider women`s pregnancy and
lactation history when advising women about their risk for
developing type 2 diabetes."