Breastfeeding women can have a decreased risk of diabetes mellitus, i.e. type 2 diabetes. There have been many studies which confirm this, one of the most recent being the one conducted by Eleanor Bimla Schwarz at the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Medicine. She concluded from the study that breastfeeding may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes even if mothers do so for only one month after delivery.
This is not the first such study and women have also been traditionally always insisted on breastfeeding their kids in all cultures. Its benefit for the babies was never in question but the health benefits to the mothers are also significant. It not only helps them reach their pre-pregnancy weight and the uterus return to its normal size, but breastfeeding also brings down the risk of developing cancer and heart disease in them.
The result of the study mentioned above was that women who never breastfeed their child were found to be much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to the much favourable result for women who breastfed for one to three months.
Schwarz explained the link between breastfeeding and diabetes by pointing out that a woman who does not breastfeed her baby goes on to have more of belly fat as she ages. Breastfeeding helps the new moms to remove excess weight from their body. As that does not happen in the case of a woman who does not breastfeed, the increased belly fat can cause diabetes, especially after reaching an advanced age.
Although some research has shown that breastfeeding influences risk of type 2 diabetes because it increases sensitivity to insulin. This leads to a lesser diabetes risk. The dramatic increase in the prevalence of type diabetes in the last century can be attributed partly to the reluctance of mothers to breastfeed. The team of Dr. Schwarz revealed that a total of 27 percent women who did not breastfeed developed type II diabetes in their life later on.
It was furthermore determined that these women were twice as likely to develop the condition, overall, compared to those who breastfed their infants promptly. This correlation was also found to be true when the researchers compared these women’s condition to those who had not given birth yet. In other words, giving birth and breastfeeding protects women from type 2 diabetes. The study provides an important reason to encourage them to breastfeed their infants for at least the infant's first month of life. Some other researches have found breastfeeding beneficial for reducing even type 1 diabetes risk.
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