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Breastfeeding Decreases Diabetes Risk in High-Risk Women

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you can’t think of enough reasons to breastfeed, here is one more. 

A new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that moms who have gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during their pregnancy can decrease their risk of developing lasting diabetes after the pregnancy by breastfeeding. 

Moms who breastfed with greater intensity and longer duration were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop diabetes in the two years after delivery, compared to mothers who primarily fed their infants with formula. 

"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," Erica Gunderson, PhD, and colleagues wrote.

This finding even held true after accounting for differences between the mothers in terms of education, ethnicity, weight, physical activity, and dietary factors.

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