A new study suggests that there is one simple trick to preventing diabetes after pregnancy.
Researchers in Oakland, CA may have uncovered a link between breastfeeding and diabetes that has the potential to improve life for both newborns and caring mothers. According to a report from MedPage Today, a recent study has shown that women with gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM, had a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they breastfed their children.
The study found that compared to women with GDM that gave their babies formula, women who breastfed their children were 50 percent less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the two years following delivery. The study was led by Dr. Erica Gunderson of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland.
Researchers have studied the effects of breastfeeding on women’s health for years, but many of the results were contradictory and most studies weren’t designed with controls or being replicable in mind.
According to Gunderson and her colleagues, “Women with a history of GDM are faced with an extremely high risk for type 2 diabetes; up to 50 percent diagnosed within 5 years after delivery. IN our study, both higher lactation intensity and duration showed strong, graded protective associations with diabetes mellitus incidence, independent of risk factors.”
The American Diabetes Association recommended that women who had GDM seriously consider breastfeeding their children. Despite the strong association between breastfeeding and decreased rate of progression into type 2 diabetes in GDM patients, the study is the first to suggest that breastfeeding can actually prevent the disease.
Gunderson believes that breastfeeding will become a mainstay in early type 2 diabetes prevention strategies in the postpartum period. The study examined over 1,000 women who had GDM. They were given oral glucose tolerance tests 6 to 9 weeks after delivery and once every year for the next two years. 12 percent of the participants in the study developed type 2 diabetes in the 2-year study period.
A press release from Kaiser Permanente outlining the methods of the study can be found here.