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Mothers who breastfeed for ‘at least six months have lower blood pressure’

December 28, 2011

“If this is a causal relationship, then taking away barriers to
breastfeeding could make a difference in women’s health later on.”

Current Department of Health guidelines urge all mothers to breastfeed their
children exclusively for the first six months of life, if they are able to.

Dr Stuebe said it was not a matter of making women try harder at breastfeeding
but rather to make it easier for them.

Studies have previously shown women who breastfeed have lower risks of
diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease later in life.

In the latest study, researchers investigated the correlation between
breastfeeding and later risk of high blood pressure among some 56,000 US
women took part in the long-running Nurses’ Health Study II. All had at
least one baby.

Nearly 8,900 women were eventually diagnosed with high blood pressure over
more than 20 years.

But those odds were 22 per cent higher for women who did not breastfeed their
first child, compared with women who exclusively breastfed for six months.

Similarly, women who had either never breastfed or done so for three months or
less were almost one-quarter more likely to develop high blood pressure than
women who had breastfed for at least a year.

Factors such as diet, exercise and smoking habits were taken into account.

Dr Stuebe, a researcher at the university’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School
of Medicine, cautioned that none of the findings proved breastfeeding itself
gives long-term protection against high blood pressure.

She said it was possible that other factors hindered women from breastfeeding
as well as contributed to their high blood pressure, such as a stressful
work environment.

But she said the study pointed to direct benefits of breast feeding. Previous
studies have shown that breastfeeding helps protect babies against common
ills such as diarrhoea and middle-ear infections.

She urged better education for new mothers while they are in hospital.

Article source: http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/534871/s/1b447a96/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Chealth0Chealthnews0C89493230CMothers0Ewho0Ebreastfeed0Efor0Eat0Eleast0Esix0Emonths0Ehave0Elower0Eblood0Epressure0Bhtml/story01.htm


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