New Study Finds Breastfeeding Supports Lowered Risk of Heart Disease

It takes a lot of heart to breastfeed, and now research shows it benefits a mom’s heart too, even more than previously expected.

The benefits of breastfeeding are astounding for both babies and mothers on so many levels. Physically, emotionally and mentally, breastfeeding yields healthier babies and moms alike. A new study from China published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found yet another phenomenal positive correlation between breastfeeding and a mother’s health: breastfeeding supports lowered risk of heart disease and stroke.

New Study Finds Breastfeeding Supports Lowered Risk of Heart DiseaseThe observational research examined data from over 280,000 Chinese women. Those who breastfed their babies were 9% less likely to have heart disease and 8% less likely to have a stroke than women who did not breastfeed. Additionally, the study found that for every 6 months more a mother breastfed, their risk of heart disease and stroke lowered by 3-4%. Mothers who breastfed for up to 2 years were 18% less likely to have heart disease and 17% less likely to have a stroke.

The research does not indicate that moms who did not or could not breastfeed were more likely to have heart disease or stroke, only that they didn’t reap the lowered risk benefit that breastfeeding offers.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women (and men) in the U.S. so any positive findings pointing to lowered risk are extremely important in the medical community. Along with a healthy diet, regular physical activity and wise lifestyle choices, breastfeeding may become another advantageous way to lower risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Although researchers don’t know exactly why breastfeeding supports lowered risk of heart disease, they have several speculations. Previous studies showed short-term benefits of breastfeeding for mothers to include lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as quicker weight loss after pregnancy. These short term benefits may have a long term effects on heart disease.

Furthermore, breastfeeding is thought to “reset” the metabolism after pregnancy. During pregnancy the body stores fat to sustain and energize both moms and babies during gestation. After childbirth, a new mom’s body no longer needs the fat reserves and breastfeeding helps eliminate them more efficiently and effectively. This is why many moms report amazing postpartum weight loss while breastfeeding.

Also, moms who breastfeed may be more likely to make smarter health decisions. Breastfeeding shows great care and concern for the health of babies, and moms who are informed and conscientious about the health of their children may also take on best practices for their own health, including cardiovascular health.

This incredible news about how breastfeeding supports lowered risk of heart disease is yet another win for breastfeeding. Literally and figuratively, breastfeeding fosters strong hearts!

Sources: Medical News Today, Time Magazine and USA Today