Study finds breastfeeding may lower the risk of stroke, a leading cause of death in women

A new study by the American Heart Association has found that breastfeeding may lower a mom’s risk of stroke later in life.

The research found that women who breastfed at least one child had a 23 percent lower risk of stroke after menopause. The link was even stronger among black women, who has a 48 percent lower risk of postmenopausal stroke.

The study also found that the longer women breastfed, the lower their risk became.

Stoke is the fourth leading cause of death among women 65 and older, and is the third leading cause of death among older Hispanic and black women, according to the study.

“Some studies have reported that breastfeeding may reduce the rates of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in mothers. Recent findings point to the benefits of breastfeeding on heart disease and other specific cardiovascular risk factors,” said Lisette T. Jacobson, Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A., lead author of the study and assistant professor in the department of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. “If you are pregnant, please consider breastfeeding as part of your birthing plan and continue to breastfeed for at least six months to receive the optimal benefits for you and your infant,” Jacobson said.

Breastfeeding is only one of many factors that could potentially protect against stroke. Others include getting adequate exercise, choosing healthy foods, not smoking and seeking treatment if needed to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar in the normal range.