Women who breastfeed their babies have a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine in March 2018, which followed 1,238 women (ages 18 to 30) for 30 years.
Mothers who breastfed for at least six months after each pregnancy were about half as likely to eventually develop diabetes as those who did not breastfeed; those who breastfed for less than six months had a 25 percent reduced risk. This was true regardless of race, body weight, and lifestyle and metabolic factors, as well as whether the women developed gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy) or not.
Breastfeeding has also been linked to a host of other potential health benefits for both mothers and children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend breastfeeding for at least six months, preferably a year. But most American women do not do this, whether by choice, because they find it physically difficult, or because of professional or other demands.
A version of this article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.