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 noted. "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: ute.Schaeferfirstname.lastname@example.org. 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 http://www.diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).
SOURCE American Diabetes Association