Aug. 1-7 marks World Breastfeeding Week 2019, which hopes to inform women about breastfeeding and empower and support breastfeeding worldwide. To offer more information, here we round up some of the recent studies that show how breastfeeding can be beneficial for both mother and baby.
Lower risk of eczema for babies
A U.S. study published earlier this year showed that breastfeeding exclusively for at least three months appears to lead to a significantly lower risk of having eczema at age six compared to babies who were breastfed for less time or not at all.
The findings are also supported by results from a large-scale 2018 study which looked at 17,046 mothers and their newborn babies, finding that babies exclusively breastfed from birth for a sustained period had a 54 per cent lower risk of eczema at the age of 16.
Maintain a healthier weight for mom
Research published at the end of 2018 in the Journal of Women’s Health found that women who breastfed for longer than six months were more likely to have a smaller waist circumference ― on average 3.5 cm smaller ― seven to 15 years later than women who breastfed for less than six months. The researchers say reducing waist circumference could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Watch: 100 years of breastfeeding. Story continues after video.
Lower risk of heart disease
A large-scale Australian study which looked at 100,864 mothers age 45 and over found that women who breastfed had a 14 per cent lower risk of developing, and a 34 per cent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to women who had children but hadn’t breastfed.
Findings from a 2017 study carried out by the same team also found evidence to suggest that breastfeeding may have a protective effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure.
Lower risk of stroke
In one of the first studies to look at the effect of breastfeeding on a woman’s risk of stroke post-menopause, researchers followed 80,191 women who had given birth to at least one child, for a period of 12.6 years. They found that postmenopausal women who had breastfed their children appeared to have a 23 per cent lower risk of stroke, on average, compared to those who never breastfed.
Breastfeeding for a shorter period of time, one to six months, was associated with a 19 per cent lower risk of stroke, with a longer reported length of breastfeeding associated with a greater reduction in risk.