A new study from South Australia reveals that breastfeeding for six months or more can significantly benefit mothers’ cardiovascular health, especially for those who experienced complicated pregnancies.
The research, published in the International Breastfeeding Journal, involved 160 mothers participating in follow-up health checks post-delivery.
Conducted by experts from the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, the study observed:
Lower Blood Pressure and BMI: Mothers who breastfed for at least six months showed improved blood pressure levels and body weight recovery (BMI) for up to three years after giving birth.
Benefits for Women with Pregnancy Complications: Women who had pregnancy complications and breastfed for six months experienced even more pronounced benefits, including lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels.
Importance for Maternal Health
Professor Claire Roberts from Flinders University emphasizes that breastfeeding improves cardio-metabolic risk factors, reducing the risk of future cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
This is especially significant for women with pregnancy complications who have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) later in life.
The Global Perspective
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continuing for over 12 months to significantly reduce chronic hypertension and diabetes in women.
The study’s findings align with this guidance, highlighting breastfeeding’s role in promoting maternal health.
The study, led by Dr. Maleesa Pathirana, involved follow-ups from the Screening Tests to Predict Outcomes of Pregnancy (STOP) study between 2018 and 2021.
Researchers found significant differences in cardiovascular health indicators between women who breastfed for at least six months and those who didn’t.
Implications and Future Research
Improvement in Cardiovascular Health: For women with major pregnancy complications, breastfeeding for six months led to lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol profiles, and lower insulin levels.
Call for Further Studies: The researchers suggest more extensive studies to compare women who breastfeed with those who do not.
Support for Breastfeeding: There is a need for more support interventions, especially in disadvantaged or low socioeconomic areas, to encourage breastfeeding and reduce the lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease.
The South Australian study underscores the significance of breastfeeding in improving cardiovascular health for mothers, particularly those with complicated pregnancies.
These findings bolster the case for encouraging and supporting breastfeeding as a vital health strategy for mothers and their babies.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and scientists find how COVID-19 damages the heart.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about Aspirin linked to higher risk of heart failure, and results showing this drug could reduce heart disease, fatty liver, obesity.
The research findings can be found in International Breastfeeding Journal.
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