Women who breastfeed their newborns for six months or longer significantly reduce their risk of developing diabetes by half as they get older, finds a recent study.
The findings indicated that women who breastfed for six months or more had a 47 percent reduction in their risk of developing type-2 diabetes compared to those who did not breastfeed at all.
The new findings add to a growing body of evidence that breastfeeding has protective effects for both mothers and their offspring, including lowering a mother's risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Lead author Erica P Gunderson from Kaiser Permanente Division of Research said: "We found a very strong association between breastfeeding duration and lower risk of developing diabetes, even after accounting for all possible confounding risk factors."
The team analysed data during the 30 years of follow up from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study and enrolled about 5,000 adults aged 18 to 30 years in 1985 to 1986.
"The incidence of diabetes decreased in a graded manner as breastfeeding duration increased, regardless of race, gestational diabetes, lifestyle, body size and other metabolic risk factors measured before pregnancy, implying the possibility that the underlying mechanism may be biological," Gunderson said.
The research appears in JAMA Internal Medicine journal.