Breast feeding could cut heart attack and stroke risk in mothers

Research has found that breast feeding is not only good for babies, it’s good for mothers too

Breast feeding is not only good for babies — it can also reduce a mother’s risk of heart attack or stroke, research has shown.

Scientists found that women who breast-fed their babies were significantly less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke in later life.

The team analysed data from 289,573 Chinese women who provided detailed information about their reproductive history and lifestyle.

Over a period of eight years, the British and Chinese researchers recorded 16,671 cases of heart disease and 23,983 strokes.


Compared with women who had never breast-fed a baby, mothers who breast-fed had a 9% lower risk of heart disease and an 8% lower risk of stroke.

Among mothers who breast-fed each of their babies for two years or more, heart disease risk was 18% lower and stroke risk 17% lower.

Each additional six months of breast feeding per baby was associated with a 4% lower risk of heart disease and a 3% reduced stroke risk.

Lead scientist Dr Sanne Peters, from Oxford University, said: “Although we cannot establish the causal effects, the health benefits to the mother from breastfeeding may be explained by a faster ‘reset’ of the mother’s metabolism after pregnancy.

“Pregnancy changes a woman’s metabolism dramatically as she stores fat to provide the energy necessary for her baby’s growth and for breastfeeding once the baby is born.

“Breast feeding could eliminate the stored fat faster and more completely.”

The findings appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association.