Women who breastfeed could lower their risk of having a heart attack and stroke when they get older. They may also reduce their chances of getting diabetes and of having high blood pressure. This is the claim of a new study from the University of Pittsburgh in America. Researchers surveyed nearly 140,000 middle-aged mothers. They asked the women, all in their 50s, about their breastfeeding history. They found that mothers who had breastfed for more than a year were up to 20 per cent less likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes. The team also found that breastfeeding for just a month benefited a mother’s long-term health. Breast milk also protects the baby against obesity, diabetes, asthma and increases a baby’s immunity and intelligence.
Researcher Dr Eleanor Schwarz said: “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so it is vitally important for us to know what we can do to protect ourselves.” She explained her study could encourage more mothers to breastfeed, and so keep mother and child healthier. “We've known for years that breastfeeding is important for babies' health. Now we know that it is important for mothers' health as well,” she said. Dr Schwartz noted that breastfeeding helped a woman’s body to recover after giving birth. She said: "Breastfeeding is an important part of the way women's bodies recover from pregnancy. When this process is interrupted, women are more likely to have a number of health problems."