One of the biggest debates when it comes to raising children is the one over breastfeeding. While the decision of how to feed a new baby is entirely up to the family, plenty of people on both sides of the issue are more than happy to weigh in.
Though many factors go into the decision of whether or not to breastfeed, a new study may may cause some new mothers to stay away from formula, especially if they’re on the fence about this issue. According to research conducted by the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, young adults who were breastfed for at least three months as babies are at a much lower risk of chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation is often associated with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
“This study shows that birthweight and breastfeeding both have implications for children’s health decades later,” said Molly W. Metzger, PhD, and co-author of the study.
“Specifically, we are looking at the effects of these early factors on later levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker associated with risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,” she added. “Comparing the long-term effects of breastfeeding to the effects of clinical trials of statin therapy, we find breastfeeding to exert effects that are as large or larger.”
It’s already been shown that breastfeeding is often the healthier choice for both mom and baby. Breastfeeding helps moms lose weight gained during pregnancy, and it also helps to protect babies from childhood obesity.
With this study, it appears that breastfeeding can also have positive effects much later in life.
To ensure their findings weren’t an anomaly, the researchers compared data of siblings in families in which one sibling was breastfed and the other was not. Doing this provided controls for any genetic factors that may have altered the final results.
Metzger feels her study helps stress the importance to mothers of getting proper care before and after pregnancy.
“These findings underscore the importance of a preventative approach, including but not limited to prenatal health care and postnatal breastfeeding support.”