Breastfeeding Helps Prevent Obesity in Kids

Study Shows the Longer a Woman Breastfeeds, the Less Likely Her Child Will

Become Overweight Later

Benefits Accrue to Kids of Overweight Women Who Had Gestational Diabetes

Apr 26, 2006, 01:00 ET from American Diabetes Association

    ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Breastfeeding longer than
 three months can cut a child's risk of later becoming overweight or obese
 by more than 40 percent, if the child was born to an overweight mother
 diagnosed with diabetes during her pregnancy, according to a study
 published in the May issue of Diabetes Care.
     Researchers in Germany found that the longer a woman breastfed, the
 less likely her child was to become overweight or obese before the age of
 8. The study included 324 children born between 1995-2000 to women with
 gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes refers to a condition that
 occurs when a woman who has never been diagnosed with diabetes exhibits
 high blood sugar levels during her pregnancy. This type of diabetes, which
 affects roughly 4 percent of all pregnant women, goes away after the baby
 is born but both mother and child are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes
 later in life.
     In the study, more than 37 percent of those children who were never
 breastfed had become overweight by the age of 8. Of those who were
 breastfed for up to three months, 32.5 percent became overweight children.
 But of those who were breastfed longer than three months, only 22 percent
 became overweight.
     The study also found, however, that women who were obese (and whose
 children were therefore at greater risk for obesity) were less motivated to
 breastfeed than non-obese women. Obese women were twice as likely to forego
 breastfeeding their children as women of healthier weights, the researchers
     "It's important to find out why these women resist breastfeeding and
 help them overcome whatever barriers there are," said Dr. Ute
 Schaefer-Graf, lead researcher on the study. "We know that obesity and
 overweight contribute to numerous health problems in adults and we are
 increasingly seeing these problems in children. Since the children of obese
 parents and, in particular, of women who are diagnosed with gestational
 diabetes, are at greater risk for gaining excessive amounts of weight as
 they grow up, breastfeeding becomes more important than ever as a means of
 getting children started on a path to good health. We strongly encourage
 anyone diagnosed with gestational diabetes to breastfeed for as many months
 as possible."
     To reach Dr. Schaefer-Graf, Department of Obstetrics, Vivantes Medical
 Center Berlin-Neukoelln, Berlin, Germany, phone: 49-30-60048486 or email:
     Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, is the
 leading peer-reviewed journal of clinical research into the nation's fifth
 leading cause of death by disease. Diabetes also is a leading cause of
 heart disease and stroke, as well as the leading cause of adult blindness,
 kidney failure and non-traumatic amputations. For more information about
 diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association Web site or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

SOURCE American Diabetes Association