Breastfeeding Research 2019: May and June

The Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ)  Early Life Nutrition Coalition highlights the protective effect of breastfeeding against some of the biggest health issues affecting Australian women today – cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Women who breastfeed for 12 months reduce their risk of breast cancer by up to 26% and reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 37%. Women who breastfeed for a longer period, instead of a short time, reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 32% and reduce their risk of dying from heart disease by 34%.  The longer the mother breastfeeds after introducing solid foods, the lower her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes or heart disease.  The Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) Early Life Nutrition Coalition, May 2019.

A major WHO study involving 33,000 children in 22 countries claims exclusive breastfeeding for six months cuts the chances of a child becoming obese by 25%.  European Congress on Obesity, April 2019.  Published in Obesity Facts, May 2019.

Children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis who were breastfed for more than six months tend to have lower disease activity.  Those children who had been breastfed for more than six months tended to have fewer joint deformities and lower disease activity. Clinical Rheumatology, first online May 6, 2019.

Breastfeeding lowers the risk of heart disease in women.  Almost 300 postmenopausal women were involved in the study.  Arterial wall stiffness was lower in women who breastfed for longer periods.  Women who breastfed for more than six months also had significantly lower measurements for vascular wall thickness than those who breastfed for between one and six months, suggesting reduced atherosclerosis.  European Endocrinology Society, annual meeting, May 18-19, 2019.

Breastfeeding was independently associated with a 44% reduction in the risk of intussusception, compared with that of bottle-fed babies.  Intussusception is a serious medical condition in which part of the intestine slides into the section next to it. It is sometimes referred to as ‘telescoping.’ This can cause partial or complete bowel obstruction, and it can cut off blood supply to part of the intestine.  This condition usually happens in the small bowel. Intussusception is most commonly seen in children under the age of 3, and the cause in most cases is unknown.  Left untreated, it can lead to the death of bowel tissue, bowel perforation, infection, sepsis, and death.  Symptoms of intussusception were vomiting, abdominal pain, hematochezia, pallor, and reduced appetite, each present in at least half of affected infants.  Pediatric News, June 4, 2019.

A study looked at the cost of not breastfeeding for 130 countries because of the resulting diseases:  595,379 childhood deaths (6 to 59 months) from diarrhea and pneumonia each year and 974,956 cases of childhood obesity can be attributed to not breastfeeding according to recommendations each year. For women, breastfeeding is estimated to have the potential to prevent 98 243 deaths from breast and ovarian cancers as well as type II diabetes each year. The total annual global costs of not breastfeeding were estimated at 694 322 lives lost annually and economic losses of US$341.3 billion.  Health Policy and Planning, June 24, 2019.

Higher levels of a customary gut bacteria enhanced by breastfeeding in early infancy were found to be coupled with an improved response to vaccines in infants through two years of age. Agricultural Research Service, June 28, 2019.

Sheila Kippley


Comments are closed.