Breastfeeding Benefits: Young Moms Who Breastfeed Have Healthier Arteries Years Later

By Staff Reporter, Parent Herald July 10, 06:00 am

Raising awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding for kids has been the most active it's ever been and new research has added yet another advantage to breastfeeding. 

According to a new study (via Health Day), a new study has revealed that breast feeding may be linked to healthier arteries. However, the study does report that it remains to be seen if women have a lower risk of heart attack or stroke, as they age. 

Young women who breast-fed their infants, compared to those who opted for bottle feeding, "may have healthier-looking arteries years later."

The study, published in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that there is a link between breast-feeding and healthier arteries but warns it's too early to conclude a possible cause-and-effect. Researchers looked at over 800 U.S. Women who have given birth at least once, those who breast-fed for longer periods had "less thickening in the carotid artery wall once they reached middle age."

When it comes to distributing blood supply in the body, the carotid arteries transport the blood to the brain and thickening of the artery wall is an early indication of atherosclerosis which can then lead to heart attack or stroke. 

"This is an interesting study," commented a cardiologist uninvolved in the study. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of the Women's Heart Health program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "There's clearly a correlation between breast-feeding and [artery-wall thickening], but we can't be sure what it means."

This is just another example of the many benefits of breastfeeding for mothers. Per HealthyChildren.org, there are a number of health benefits that mothers can look forward to. 

It's reported that recovery from pregnancy and birth is hastened when mothers breastfeed and the process also releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps to return the uterus to its regular size. Similarly, "studies show that women who have breastfed experience reduced rates of breast and ovarian cancer later in life. Some studies have found that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol." Lastly, with exclusive and continued breastfeeding, a mother's menstrual period is delayed which can act as a natural form of birth control and proper spacing between births. 

The research was led by Erica Gunderson, of Kaiser Permanente Northern California's division of research in Oakland, Calif. 

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