Breastfeeding may help a mom's heart

April 22, 2009 4:16:02 PM PDT
Breast-feeding isn't just good for baby, it may also boost mom's cardiovascular health as she ages.

According to new research, women in their 60s who had breast-fed for more than 12 months over their lifespan were nearly 10 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and significantly less likely to develop heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, researchers report.

"We found that the longer women breast-feed, the lower their risk of heart attacks, strokes or heart disease," said Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, an assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care.

The study was published in the May issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

A previous study showed a 23 per cent reduction in heart attack risk in women who had breast-fed fro 2 years or more.

Although it's well-established that breast-feeding can benefit infant heart health, just 11 per cent of American mothers breast-feed exclusively for the first 6 months of their babies' lives.

In addition to benefiting babies, breast-feeding can help women lose pregnancy weight, since it burns almost 500 extra calories a day.

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