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Gynecologists strongly recommend mothers to breastfeed their babies at least 1 year as breast milk is the best food for the infants. Breastfeeding is also proven to beneficial for mothers in many ways. Here's another reason why you should breastfeed your baby. A new study has revealed that lactation can lower the incidence and reduce the risk of maternal postpartum diabetes.
The study by a team of South Korean researchers found that lactation increases the mass and function of insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells through serotonin production. Serotonin act as an antioxidant and reduce oxidative stress, making mothers' beta cells healthier. The chemical also induces the proliferation of beta cells, thereby increasing the beta cell mass and helping maintain proper glucose levels. This is how breastfeeding help reduce the risk of postpartum diabetes in women. Surprisingly, the researchers found that this beneficial effect was maintained after the cessation of lactation, for more than three years after delivery.
Now, the researchers are hoping that their finding could lead to new therapeutics to help prevent mothers from developing metabolic disorders.
Weight gain and increased insulin resistance during pregnancy, a history of gestational diabetes, maternal age, obesity all of this can increase a woman's risk of progressing to diabetes after delivery. The risk of postpartum diabetes increases more in women who have had gestational diabetes and/or repeated deliveries. Diabetes can lead to complications including damage to blood vessels, which can in turn cause cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
Earlier studies have reported that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of postpartum diabetes, but the mechanisms underlying this benefit have remained elusive.
Mothers who breastfeed their children for more than one year may have reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Breastfeeding has also been linked to a reduced risk of several other diseases.
A study in the American Journal of Hypertension revealed that women who breastfeed more children and for longer periods of time are less likely to suffer from hypertension after they reach menopause.
Endometriosis is a chronic and incurable gynecologic disorder that may cause chronic pelvic pain, painful periods and pain during intercourse. A study at Brigham and Women's Hospital found that women who breastfed for longer periods had a significantly lower risk of being diagnosed with endometriosis.
Breastfeeding may have long-term heart health benefits for mothers. A study by researchers from University of Pittsburgh observed that women who breastfed their babies for at least six months following birth had better markers of cardiovascular health years later. However, women with high blood pressure during pregnancy did not show the same benefits.
A study by the American Heart Association found stroke risk among women who breastfed their babies was on average 23 per cent lower in all women. It was 19 per cent lower in women who had breastfed for up to six months. A longer reported length of breastfeeding was associated with a greater reduction in risk.
Postpartum depression affects up to 15 per cent of mothers. But if you breastfeed your baby, you will be less likely to develop postpartum depression. But usually, mothers with early postpartum depression may not be keen on breastfeeding their children or they may wean early.
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