Breastfeeding for more than 6 months linked to a smaller waist
Breastfeeding for more than 6 months after birth appears to be independently associated with a long-term decrease in waist circumference (WC), reports a recent study.
Of the 676 eligible mothers, 311 (mean age at delivery, 27.2±0.37 years) had WC <88 cm; the remaining 365 (mean age 26.6±0.35 years) had WC ≥88 cm. Prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) was significantly greater in the latter group (31.4±0.49 vs 22.5±0.25 kg/m2; p<0.0001), as was the frequency of gestational diabetes (9.3 percent vs 3.8 percent; p=0.026).
At follow-up, women who breastfed for >6 months showed lower BMI (p<0.0001), smaller waist (85.6±1.2 vs 93.6±0.9 cm; p<0.0001) and hip (107.8±1.3 vs 115.2±1.0 cm; p<0.0001) circumferences, and lower systolic (113.0±1.2 vs 115.4±0.7 mm Hg; p=0.076) and diastolic (73.5±1.0 vs 76.4±0.6 mm Hg; p=0.011) blood pressures relative to women who breastfed ≤6 months.
In multivariable linear regression analysis, breastfeeding was significantly associated with a smaller WC, such that each additional month correlated with a 0.20-cm (95 percent CI, –0.5 to 0.0; p=0.032) drop in WC. This was attenuated after additional adjustment for diet quality, physical activity and smoking (β, –0.20; –0.4 to 0.0; p=0.053).
Nevertheless, when taken as a dichotomous variable, mothers who breastfed for >6 months had significantly smaller WCs compared with those who breastfed for ≤6 months (β, –3.5; –5.7 to –1.2; p=0.003).
Future studies are needed to determine the relationship between central adiposity and cumulative lifetime duration off breastfeeding, said researchers. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that breastfeeding may be an important factor to consider when evaluating long-term maternal cardiovascular and metabolic health.