Washington: Mothers who breastfeed run a lower risk of developing Alzheimer`s, with longer periods of breastfeeding further reducing the risk, a new study suggests.
The report suggests that the link may be to do with certain biological effects of breastfeeding.
For example, breastfeeding restores insulin tolerance which is significantly reduced during pregnancy, and Alzheimer`s is characterised by insulin resistance in the brain.
Although they used data gathered from a very small group of just 81 British women, the researchers observed a highly significant and consistent correlation between breastfeeding and Alzheimer`s risk. They argue that this was so strong that any potential sampling error was unlikely.
At the same time, however, the connection was much less pronounced in women who already had a history of dementia in their family.
The research team hope that the study - which was intended merely as a pilot - will stimulate further research looking at the relationship between female reproductive history and disease risk.
The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer`s Disease.