Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby. One recent study found that breastfeeding could reduce the risk of obesity in children. And now a new study suggests that breastfeeding could help reduce the long-term weight retention of mothers suffering from obesity.
“This study suggests that improving adherence to breast-feeding recommendations may help reduce long-term maternal weight retention among obese mothers,” write the researchers, who were led by Andrea Sharma from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
Using data from previous research on breast-feeding conducted between 2005 and 2007, the CDC researchers compared data on the weight of 726 women from their third trimester of pregnancy to the sixth year after giving birth. Overall, 29% of the women breast-fed exclusively for the first four months – the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at the time (which is now six months exclusive breastfeeding. About 20% breast-fed exclusively for four months and then continue to breast-feed for at least a year.
For those mothers who are considered normal weight or overweight, following the guidelines of the time didn’t seem to have an impact on how much weight they retained after the delivery. However, mothers that were obese retained about eighteen fewer pounds after their pregnancy if they follow the guidelines. This was compared to obese mothers who never breast-fed.
The new data comes at a time when obesity is being considered a national epidemic, and when many women are gaining more weight than they should during pregnancy. In fact, researchers said that about half of all pregnant women gain more than the recommended weight.
To encourage more breast-feeding, the researchers say that doctors need to be more educated about its importance. Additionally, more lactation support should be offered in hospitals. In particular, the researchers say that there should be special focus placed on breast-feeding initiatives that are designed to target those that suffer from obesity, or at those who are at high risk for the condition (including children).
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