Breastfeeding Might Lower Risk of Mom Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis

sleep-leisureAnother reason to celebrate breastfeeding, moms! New research suggests that moms who breastfeeding their babies have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The study, which involved over 7,000 Chinese women, was unable to conclusively prove a link between nursing and a decreased risk of RA, but the study’s implications bolster the health benefits mom receives from breastfeeding.

Researchers looked at women 50 years and older in China who breastfed, used birth control pills, or both. From the information gathered, researchers found that over 95% of the women with children had breastfed for at least a month. Also, a low percentage of women had used birth control: only 11% of women polled reported that they had taken birth control pills. It was noted that the women included in this study were born in the 1940’s and 1950’s, which may explain the high breastfeeding and low birth control rates.

Swelling joints, stiff joints, and even loss of joint function—rheumatoid arthritis is a particularly painful form of arthritis. It is known that women develop RA more than men, but its causes are still unknown. Scientists believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors foster the disease.

Breastfeeding is more common in China than other Western countries, and researchers plan on expanding their interview pool across other nations. Because breastfeeding and formula-feeding have experienced rises and falls in popularity over the years, it will be difficult for researchers to expect the same high breastfeeding rate in future sample groups. However, the preliminary findings support further research—rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease and any prevention would be well-received by doctors and women patients alike.

Breastfeeding is not only healthy for your baby, but for you as well! The study found that the longer moms breastfed their babies, the lower the risk of developing RA. So keep nursing for you and your baby!