Study shows breastfeeding linked to lower heart disease, stroke risk

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The Journal of the American Heart Association has found there is a significant association between breastfeeding and a lowered risk of suffering from heart disease or stroke.

Researchers published a new paper that studied the data of more than 1 million women from eight separate studies. After compiling the data, researchers discovered that breastfeeding led to an 11% decrease in cardiovascular disease, a 12% reduction in strokes, and a 17% reduction in fatalities because of cardiovascular disease.

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“Previous studies have investigated the association between breastfeeding and the risk of cardiovascular disease in the mother. However, the findings were inconsistent on the strength of the association and, specifically, the relationship between different durations of breastfeeding and cardiovascular disease risk,” senior author Dr. Peter Willeit said in a news release.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, killing one in five women. According to Yale Medicine, high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol among others are the highest risk factors leading to heart disease in women.

The World Health Organization recommends for newborn infants to be breastfed within the first hour of birth and exclusively be breastfed until six months of age.

A separate study by WHO stated that “evidence on the importance of breastfeeding as the cornerstone of child survival, nutrition and development, and maternal health continues to increase.”

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Breastfeeding has been proven to be beneficial for both infants and mothers alike, imperative to a child’s development and the health of mothers.

According to Cleveland Clinic, breastfeeding is associated with stronger immune systems, fewer colds and respiratory illnesses and lower rates of mortality in babies. For mothers, there is less of a chance of anemia, more positive mood and increased bonding with their babies.

“Mothers should be further encouraged to breastfeed their infants knowing that they are not only improving the health of their child, but improving their own health as well,” Dr. Shelley Miyamoto said in the news release.

Miyamoto is director of the Cardiomyopathy Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.