Monday , November 20 2017
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Breastfeeding and Children’s Diabetes Risk

Research suggests risk reduction when breast feeding for a certain time frame…. 

Previous research has shown an association between the length of breastfeeding during infancy and the use of cow’s milk with the development of diabetes later in life. Breastfed individuals are reported to have less obesity and type 2 diabetes, as compared to those individuals raised on infant formula. Human milk and cow’s milk have immune-promoting substances that help mature the immune system and both protect against diabetes onset as well as promote satiety to prevent excess childhood weight gain.

In a recent study, researchers performed a non-systematic review to determine whether breastfeeding offers protective benefits against diabetes in children. A literature review was performed for research studies published in the past 10 years on breastfeeding, breast milk, infant feeding, and type 2 diabetes. A total of 21 articles were analyzed, with 9 articles specific for type 1 diabetes and 12 specific for type 2 diabetes.

Most studies analyzed found that children who were breastfed for at least 6 months were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, as compared to those who received breastfeeding for shorter periods of time or those who were never breastfed. Breastfeeding appeared to be a modifiable risk factor for the development of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The authors concluded that breastfeeding is suggested to be maintained for the first 6 months and as complement through the first 2 years of infancy.

Practice Pearls:
  • The benefits of breastfeeding appear to be attributable to bioactive substances contained in breast milk that promote satiety and immune maturation.
  • Breast feeding appears to be a possible modifiable risk factor for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
  • Breast feeding is suggested to be maintained for the first 6 months and as complement through the first 2 years of infancy in order to promote health throughout the child’s life.

[Pereira, PF. Et al. Does breastfeeding influence the risk of developing diabetes mellitus in children? A review of current evidence. Jornal de Pediatria. 2013;90(1):7-15]