Background: Lactation has been associated with improvements in maternal glucose metabolism. Methods: We explored the relationships between lactation and risk of type 2 diabetes in a well-characterized, population-representative cohort of women, aged 40-78 years, who were members of a large integrated health care delivery organization in California and enrolled in the Reproductive Risk factors for Incontinence Study at Kaiser (RRISK), between 2003 and 2008. Multivariable logistic regression was used to control for age, parity, race, education, hysterectomy, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use, family history of diabetes, and body mass index while examining the impact of duration, exclusivity, and consistency of lactation on risk of having developed type 2 diabetes. Results: Of 2233 women studied, 1828 were mothers; 56% had breastfed an infant for <1 month. In fully adjusted models, the risk of type 2 diabetes among women who consistently breastfed all of their children for <1 month remained similar to that of women who had never given birth (odds ratio [OR] 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.56-1.81). In contrast, mothers who had never breastfed an infant were more likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than nulliparous women (OR 1.92; 95% CI, 1.14-3.27). Mothers who never exclusively breastfed were more likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than mothers who exclusively breastfed for 1-3 months (OR 1.52; 95% CI, 1.11-2.10). Conclusions: Risk of type 2 diabetes increases when term pregnancy is followed by <1 month of lactation, independent of physical activity and body mass index in later life. Mothers should be encouraged to exclusively breastfeed all of their infants for at least 1 month.
- Type 2 diabetes
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