Breastfeed babies longer to reduce risk of high blood pressure later
01/09/2019 // Jessica Dolores // Views

There's much to be said about the benefits of breastfeeding, even after a woman has raised her children up to the point where they don't need mother's milk any longer. A new study published in the American Journal of Hypertension shows that the more women breastfeed their children, the more they're shielded from the ill effects of hypertension after menopause.

Hypertension is closely linked to cardiovascular disease in women. The National Institute of Health shared this finding in an online article that also said hypertension is one of the most vital risk factors in diabetic women.

The current study could, therefore, serve as a source of hope for women, especially those who fear the consequences of hypertension through the years. In particular, it was conducted to check if breastfeeding influenced maternal hypertension and if obesity or insulin sensitivity affected the relationship between breastfeeding and hypertension in postmenopausal women.

Researchers gathered data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES) from 2010 to 2011. A total of 3,119 non-smoking postmenopausal women aged 50 and above were selected from KNHANES to be part of the study. The team then conducted logistic regression analyses to study the link between breastfeeding and hypertension, and mediation analyses to check if obesity and insulin sensitivity affected the link between breastfeeding and hypertension.

The research team found that susceptibility to hypertension – the number one cause of death in men and women around the world – was absent in obese women who breastfed their children. The same positive result cropped up in insulin-resistant women who breastfed their children. Frequency and length of breastfeeding were just as important: Women who breastfed their children the most showed a 51 percent decrease in susceptibility to hypertension. Those who breastfed their children for the longest time (96 to 324 months) lowered their risk of hypertension by as much as 45 percent.


According to the study, breastfeeding 'resets' maternal metabolism (e.g., fat accumulation and insulin resistance), thus, lowering the risk of obesity-related diseases. These include Type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart failure, gallstones, gout and gouty arthritis, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and Pickwickian syndrome. In addition, oxytocin, the love hormone released during childbirth, lactation, and reproduction during breastfeeding, may reduce the occurrence of diseases. (Related: Now we’re told pregnant women shouldn’t be referred to as “she” – new medical language guidelines claim it’s disrespectful.)

Breastfeeding doesn't just benefit mothers

Of course, women are not the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding.

Breastmilk is packed with nutrients like protein, calcium, fat and vitamin A, among others. A breastfed baby's age doesn't matter. The infant will still get the full benefit of nutrition from mother's milk a year after he or she is breastfed.

Breastfed babies are also more disease-free. That's because mother's milk powers the baby's immune system, making it resistant to bacteria and viruses. These benefits last longer through time. In an article for, lactation counselor Robin Elise Weiss explained that babies who are breastfed longer tend to have less autoimmune and allergy pandemics like anemia, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and even cancer later in life. It also develops a baby's brain more, since babies who suckle both breasts adopt many body positions – improving their spatial ability.

Breastfed babies also bond with their mom more, and are therefore calmer, especially during tense situations. Moms who want to soothe their babies would do well to offer their breast when the infant is crying after an injury or accident. The babies quiet down, and mom and infant enjoy reduced stress.

All these reinforce the statement of Nam-Kyong Choi, lead researcher in the study on the relation between breastfeeding and hypertension risk. "Our findings endorsed the current recommendations for breastfeeding for the benefit of maternal health in mothers' later lives," she said.

Learn more about breastfeeding by following today.

Sources include: 1 2

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