Heart Disease

Maternal health research

The studies below explore the impact that breastfeeding can have on maternal cardiovascular health.

Breastfeeding reduces mothers’ cardiovascular disease risk

A meta-analysis of international studies comprised of the health records of nearly 1.2 million women found that women who breastfed at some time in their lives were less likely to develop heart disease or stroke and had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to women who did not breastfeed. Over an average follow-up period of 10 years, women who breastfed at some time in their life were 14% less likely to develop coronary heart disease; 12% less likely to suffer strokes; and 17% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. There were no notable differences in cardiovascular disease risk among women of different ages or according to the number of pregnancies.

American Heart Association. “Breastfeeding reduces mothers’ cardiovascular disease risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 January 2022. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/01/220111091356.htm

Breastfeeding and cardiovascular disease hospitalization and mortality in parous women: evidence from a large Australian cohort study

This study examined the longitudinal association between breastfeeding and maternal cardiovascular disease (CVD) hospitalization and mortality in a large Australian cohort (100,864 parous women aged ≥45). Analysis was restricted to women without self‐reported medically diagnosed CVD at baseline or without past CVD hospitalization 6 years before study entry. Researchers found that ever breastfeeding was associated with lower risk of CVD hospitalization and mortality compared with never breastfeeding, and breastfeeding ≤12 months/child was significantly associated with lower risk of CVD hospitalization.

Nguyen, B, Gale, J, Nassar, N, et al (2019). Breastfeeding and cardiovascular disease hospitalization and mortality in parous women: evidence from a large Australian cohort study. Journal of the American Heart Association, doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.118.011056

Breastfeeding and reduced maternal risk of diabetes and heart disease

A study of 139,681 women found that women who reported a lifetime history of more than 12 months of lactation were 10-15% less likely to have hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and cardiovascular disease than those who had not breastfed.

Schwarz EB Ray RM, Steube AM et al. Duration of lactation and risk factors for maternal cardiovascular disease. Obstet Gynecol 2009 May; 113:974

Related research and further reading

Research on Overweight and Obesity

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The impact of breastfeeding on maternal and child health: Acta Paediatrica special issue

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