Mothers who breastfeed may reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke later in life, a new study has found.
Previous research has shown that breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and obesity – and scientists hope their new findings will encourage more women to choose breast over bottle.
Researchers from the UK and China examined health data from more than 280,000 Chinese women, nearly all of whom were mothers.
After adjusting the results for other risk factors, including smoking, high blood pressure and physical activity, they found mothers who breastfed their babies had a 9 per cent lower risk of heart disease and 8 per cent lower risk of stroke than mothers who never breastfed.
The longer each woman breastfed her baby, the more their risk of cardiovascular disease appeared to reduce.
Each additional six months of breastfeeding per baby was linked to a four per cent lower risk of heart disease and a three per cent lower risk of stroke.
And among mothers who breastfed their babies for two years or more, heart disease risk was 18 per cent lower and stroke risk was 17 per cent lower than among mothers who never breastfed.