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Breast-feeding and diabetes: long-term impact on mothers and their infants

In the general population, breast-feeding is associated with a reduced risk of the offspring being overweight later in life by 22% to 24% across the age spectrum, from preschool children to adults. There is a dose-response gradient with increasing duration of breast-feeding, and lowest risk with prolonged, exclusive breast-feeding. Breast-feeding has been shown to slow infant growth up to 2 years of age. By contrast, the scientific evidence is inconclusive about whether breast-feeding protects against the onset of overweight and subsequent development of type 2 diabetes among offspring whose mothers had diabetes during pregnancy. Moreover, evidence is insufficient to determine if lactation protects against development of type 2 diabetes later in life in women with a diabetes history during pregnancy. Given the paucity of the evidence and equivocal findings about the long-term effects of breast-feeding on future health of women with diabetes during pregnancy and their infants, further research is recommended.

Authors: Gunderson EP

Curr Diab Rep. 2008 Aug;8(4):279-86.

PubMed abstract

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