Breastfeeding associated with lower rates of hypertension

Feb 15th – Parous women who breastfeed are less likely to develop hypertension than parous women who don’t breastfeed.

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1. Parous women who breastfeed are less likely to develop hypertension than parous women who don’t breastfeed. 

2. Parous women who don’t breastfeed and nulliparous women have roughly equivalent odds of hypertension.

This study demonstrates an association between breastfeeding and lower odds of hypertension later in life. Researchers found a significant reduction in the odds of hypertension among women who breastfed their child for just three months, with more significant reductions as breastfeeding duration increased.  These findings bolster current evidence that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, as recommended by the AAP, confers enduring health benefits to both mother and child. Though this study is strengthened by its large sample size, the retrospective cohort design makes it difficult to determine whether the observed association represents a causal effect of breastfeeding on blood pressure, or is simply due to the fact that women who breastfeed represent a healthier cohort than those who do not.

Click to read the study in AJOG

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Image: PD

1. Parous women who breastfeed are less likely to develop hypertension than parous women who don’t breastfeed. 

2. Parous women who don’t breastfeed and nulliparous women have roughly equivalent odds of hypertension.

This [retrospective cohort] study examined self-reported data from 74,785 women included in the 45 and UP Study, Australia who were 45 years of age and older, had an intact uterus, and hadn’t been diagnosed with hypertension prior to pregnancy. The authors used logistic regression to estimate the odds ratios and 99% confidence intervals for the association between giving birth, breastfeeding, lifetime breastfeeding duration, and average breastfeeding per child with high blood pressure. They found that parous women had significantly lower odds of having high blood pressure than nulliparous women, but the subset of parous women who did not breastfeed had odds that were equivalent to nulliparous women. Among parous women who breastfed, the odds of high blood pressure decreased further with increasing duration of breastfeeding. However, the association between breastfeeding and odds of hypertension became non-significant by age 64 for almost all women.

In sum: This study demonstrates an association between breastfeeding and lower odds of hypertension later in life. Researchers found a significant reduction in the odds of hypertension among women who breastfed their child for just three months, with more significant reductions as breastfeeding duration increased.  These findings bolster current evidence that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, as recommended by the AAP, confers enduring health benefits to both mother and child. Though this study is strengthened by its large sample size, the retrospective cohort design makes it difficult to determine whether the observed association represents a causal effect of breastfeeding on blood pressure, or is simply due to the fact that women who breastfeed represent a healthier cohort than those who do not.

Click to read the study in AJOG

By Elizabeth Kersten and Andrew Bishara

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