Breastfeeding could protect your health

Breastfeeding for a year could reduce your risk of a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke, new research shows.

Breastfeeding could reduce your risk of a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke, new research shows.

Why is breastfeeding in the news?

A new study carried out by the University of Pittsburgh has shown that your risk of a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke could be cut by 10% if you breastfeed for a year.

It could also reduce your risk of diabetes and high cholesterol by 20%, and your risk of high blood pressure by 12%. These all contribute to heart disease.

The research shows that breastfeeding even for just a month could cut your risk of these.

How does this work?

More research is needed to understand why breastfeeding cuts the risk of these diseases. It could be because it reduces the fat stores in the body.

It's also thought that the hormones that are released during breastfeeding play a part.

What other benefits are there for breastfeeding?

The benefits for the baby have been known for a while. Breastfeeding has shown proven to give babies some protection against asthma, obesity, diabetes and infections.

It's also been suggested that breastfeeding is part of the way that women's bodies recover from pregnancy.

And past research has proved that breastfeeding reduces the mothers' risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis later in life.

What do the experts say?

Dr Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, who was involved in the research, said: 'We have known for years that breastfeeding is important for babies' health - we now know that it is important for mothers' health as well.

'The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them.'

Rosie Dodds, from the National Childbirth Trust, said: 'The government needs to make it easier and more acceptable for women to breastfeed when they are out and about.' 

Where to next?

- Breast feeding guide - 'I panicked when my baby suddenly stopped feeding' - 'I realised breastfeeding wasn't for me' - More help on breastfeeding


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