Adding to the long list of breastfeeding benefits, Medscape Medical News summarizes a study demonstrating that breastfeeding strongly protects women diagnosed with gestational diabetes from progressing to Type 2 diabetes.
Turning to the study itself, investigators followed 1010 women for 2 years after the birth. Overall, 12% of the women developed Type 2 diabetes. Their likelihood correlated inversely with breastfeeding intensity at 6 to 9 weeks postpartum (exclusive breastfeeding vs. mostly breastfeeding vs. mostly formula feeding vs. exclusive formula feeding) and with breastfeeding duration (> 10 months vs. 5-10 months vs. 2-5 months vs. 0-2 months).
After adjusting for factors that could affect breastfeeding and the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, such as race/ethnicity, age, prepregnancy BMI, glucose tolerance test results, and neonatal intensive care admission, exclusive breastfeeding and mostly breastfeeding roughly halved the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and mostly formula feeding reduced it by one-third compared with exclusively formula feeding. Similarly, duration of more than 10 months reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes by more than half, and breastfeeding for 5-10 or 2-5 months reduced risk by slightly less than half compared with duration of 0-2 months. Factoring in weight change in the first year modified the protective effect only slightly, further strengthening the case that breastfeeding was responsible for the results.
The Take-Away: Breastfeeding: not just good for baby, good for mama too.