How Breast Feeding Mothers are at a Lower Risk of Heart Diseases & Strokes?

Breastfeeding is an extremely vital and emotional experience for both mother and baby. A mother takes it upon her to nurture and protect her newborn, breastfeeding is one of them. Scientists’ have vouched for breastfeeding and its benefits since the beginning.

The mother’s milk is rich in antibodies which transfer into the baby’s body via breastfeeding and helps fight off viruses and diseases. It strengthens the baby’s immune system and lowers the risk of having asthma, allergies and ear infections. Some scientists have even said that breastfed children develop higher IQ and better body weight.

According to a new research, breastfeeding mothers not only enjoy short term health benefits but long term benefits like lower risk of heart diseases and stroke. Short term benefits include like lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and lower glucose levels after pregnancy.

Research Study on Chinese Women

The researchers from the University of Oxford, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the Peking University conducted a research on 300,000 middle aged (average age 51) Chinese women for eight years. The research subjects participated in the China Kadoorie Bio bank study and provided detailed information about their number of children, breastfeeding history and lifestyle. An interesting factor was that most of the subjects had children and no signs of cardiovascular disease.

Post-Eight Year Follow-up Findings

After eight years, a health follow up was conducted and below statistics were collected

  1. There were 16,673 cases of coronary heart diseases
  2. There were 23,983 stroke cases.
Research Findings

According to the conducted research,

  1. In comparison to mothers who never breastfed, the mothers who did had a 9% lower risk of heart diseases and an 8% lower risk of strokes
  2. The mothers who had breastfed their babies for 2 or more than 2 years enjoyed an 18% lower heart disease risk and 17% lower stroke risk
  3. Additional 6 months of breastfeeding was associated with a 4% lower risk of heart disease and 3% lower risk of strokes.

Resetting of Mother’s Metabolism

Breastfeeding is associated with resetting the mother’s metabolism after childbirth. The body of an expecting mother tends to accumulate energy from her diet and stores it in the form of fat in her body. This act prepares her body to provide nutrition to the growing fetus, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

After the birth, the breast milk is the best source of nutrition and nourishment for the newborn and a faster way of burning all the accumulated fat for the mother. This not only “resets” the mother’s metabolism and help it get back to normal. The mothers who had not breastfed their babies may encounter health problems like

  1. Blood pressure ( due to high cholesterol and glucose in the blood)
  2. High glucose levels
  3. Weight Gain
  4. Higher cholesterol levels which increase the risk of cardio vascular diseases and strokes in future.

Limitations of the study

  1. The study was based on the information provided by the subjects and it was not a series of events witnessed, observed or recorded by the researchers hence no cause and effect results could be obtained.
  2. Other casual factors like genetic history of cardiovascular problems, smoking, depression, high-fat diet could also have affected the results. These factors were not controlled.
  3. Results from studies like these (observational studies) have to be confirmed by another study to confirm that Factor A results in Outcome A.

The author is a Medical Microbiologist and a healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health.

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