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Breast-Feeding Can Help Mom's Heart Decades Later
Date:12/3/2009

20-year study shows it cut risk factors linked to diabetes, cardiovascular trouble,,,,

THURSDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Breast-feeding, even for just a couple of months, can significantly lower a woman's risk of metabolic syndrome -- a dangerous cluster of heart disease risk factors -- years later, reports a new study appearing online Dec. 3 in the journal Diabetes.

In women who didn't have pregnancy-related (gestational) diabetes, breast-feeding between one and five months lowered a woman's risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 39 percent, while breast-feeding for the same duration lowered the risk of the syndrome by 44 percent in women with gestational diabetes.

And, the longer a woman breast-fed, the better it was for her later health. Breast-feeding for longer than nine months dropped the risk of metabolic syndrome by 86 percent in women with gestational diabetes. Women without gestational diabetes saw a 56 percent reduction in their risk of metabolic syndrome, according to the study.

"Breast-feeding has favorable health benefits for women as well as for children. Breast-feeding may help protect women from heart disease and diabetes in the future," said the study's lead author, Erica Gunderson, an epidemiologist and research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

The benefits of breast-feeding for infants are well-documented and include lower risk of ear infections, stomach problems, respiratory illnesses, asthma, skin allergies, diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For women, breast-feeding appears to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Metabolic syndrome arises when a group of cardiac risk factors occurs in one person. Those risk factors include: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low levels of HDL ("
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