"We have seen dramatic increases in the prevalence of type-2 diabetes over the last century," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynaecology at the University of Pittsburgh.
"Diet and exercise are widely known to impact the risk of type-2 diabetes, but few people realise that breastfeeding also reduces the mothers' risk of developing the disease later in life by decreasing maternal belly fat," said Schwarz, according to a Pittsburgh release.
The study included 2,233 women between the ages of 40 and 78. Overall, 56 per cent of mothers reported they had breas-fed an infant for at least one month, reports the American Journal of Medicine.
Twenty-seven per cent of mothers who did not breastfeed developed type-2 diabetes or were almost twice as likely to develop the disease than women who had breast-fed or never given birth.
Conversely, mothers who breast-fed all of their children were not more likely to develop diabetes than women who never gave birth.
These long-term differences were notable even after considering age, race, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use.
"Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breastfeed their infants, at least for the infant's first month of life," Schwarz said.
"Clinicians need to consider women's pregnancy and lactation history when advising women about their risk for developing type 2 diabetes," she added. ó IANS