Does breastfeeding reduce the risk of cardiovascular morality?
Women who have given birth but who have not breastfed their infant have a higher rate of cardiovascular mortality than women who have breastfed, according to a recent study in Norway.
Researchers studied the association between the lifetime duration of breastfeeding and cardiovascular mortality among 20,007 women aged 30–65 who were participants in a population-based prospective cohort study– the second Nord-Trøndelag Health Survey (HUNT2), which was performed between 1995 and 1997. Data on mortality rates were collected from the Cause of Death Registry (which was linked to the HUNT2 cohort) through to 2010.
In total, 96.7% of the women had breastfed at least one infant; 1,246 women died as a result of cardiovascular disease. Women who were younger than 65 and who had given birth but never breastfed an infant had a higher cardiovascular mortality rate than those with a lifetime duration of breastfeeding of 24 months or greater (hazard ratio [HR] 2.77, 85% confidence interval [CI] 1.28–5.99). Women who had breastfed for 7–12 months had the lowest risk of cardiovascular mortality, which was almost half the risk of those who had breastfed for ≥24 months (HR 0.55, 95% CI 0.27–1.09).
The researchers conclude that further studies are necessary as it is unclear whether breastfeeding has a protective effect against cardiovascular disease.