4 ways science says breastfeeding can benefit you & your baby

The latest batch of research confirms the saying 'breast is best'

02 August 2019 - 00:00 By AFP Relaxnews
A recent US study found that breastfed babies had a lower risk of developing eczema.
A recent US study found that breastfed babies had a lower risk of developing eczema.
Image: 123RF/Konstantin Pelikh

1. LOWER RISK OF ECZEMA FOR BABIES

A US study published earlier this year showed that babies who were breastfeeding exclusively for at least three months appear to have a significantly lower risk of having eczema at age six compared to children 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% lower risk of eczema at the age of 16.

2. HELPS MOM MAINTAIN A HEALTHIER WEIGHT

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 3.5cm 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 (CVD). 

3. 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% lower risk of developing, and a 34% lower risk of dying from CVD, 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 CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure.

4. 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 folllowed 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% 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% lower risk of stroke, with a longer reported length of breastfeeding associated with a greater reduction in risk.