Choosing not to breastfeed your babies can have significant health consequences. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that mothers who do not breastfeed are twice as likely as mothers who do to get type 2 diabetes.
Published in the American Journal of Medicine, the study of over 2,200 women found that more than a quarter of women who do not breastfeed end up developing type 2 diabetes. On the contrary, women who do breastfeed are no more likely to develop the disease than women who have never had children.
The connection between type 2 diabetes and not breastfeeding seems to lie in the belly. Women who breastfeed naturally decrease their maternal belly fat through feeding their children, but women who do not breastfeed tend to keep more of this fat around their midsections.
"Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed their infants, at least for the infant's first month of life," explained Dr. Eleanor Schwarz, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. "Clinicians need to consider women's pregnancy and lactation history when advising women about their risk for developing type 2 diabetes."
However, the World Health Organization recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies for at least the first two years in order to provide them with maximum levels of immune-developing nutrition. After all, breast milk is rich in disease-fighting antibodies and contains a rich, perfectly-balanced array of vital nutrients that no formula can match.
Breastfeeding also helps prevent mothers from developing other diseases like metabolic syndrome and breast cancer, so it is good for both the baby and the mother.
"Along with providing optimal nutrition, breast milk also provides compounds that boost babies' immune system and help protect them from bacteria, viruses and parasites," explains the book Bottom Line's Health Breakthroughs 2007.