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Study: How breastfeeding can protect against diabetes in the long term

Study: How breastfeeding can protect against diabetes in the long term


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The metabolism changes
(aid) - Breast milk is the best food for the child. But the woman also benefits if she breastfeeds her baby for longer. The mother's metabolism changes in the long term from a breastfeeding period of three months, according to a study by the Helmholtz Zentrum München. This has a protective effect against diabetes, which can last up to 15 years.

At least four percent of all pregnant women in Germany have gestational diabetes before birth. Diabetes is now the most common concomitant disease in pregnancy. After childbirth, blood sugar levels usually return to normal, but the risk of type 2 diabetes increases. Every second person affected will develop a permanently elevated blood sugar level within the next ten years. Studies also suggest that breastfeeding can lower your risk of metabolic disorder.

The current study aimed to clarify the background for this positive effect. To this end, the scientists at the Helmholtz Center, together with partners from the Technical University of Munich and the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), examined the metabolism of almost 200 women with gestational diabetes. At this point, an average of three and a half years had passed since the birth. The test subjects were asked to show how well their body can process a higher amount of sugar (75g). Blood samples were taken fasting and 30 or 120 minutes after taking the sugar solution and analyzed for a total of 156 metabolic products.
Apparently, some metabolic pathways associated with diabetes and insulin resistance are positively affected by breastfeeding. Depending on the duration of breastfeeding, the values ​​for certain parameters were different. For example, the production of the so-called phospholipids changed in women who had breast-fed for at least three months. In addition, the blood plasma concentration of branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) was lower.

Breastfeeding acts like a "reset" on the metabolism, the scientists suspect. Disturbed paths are returned to their origin and remain in this natural state for many years. Therefore, especially women with gestational diabetes should be supported in breastfeeding. The positive effect was independent of the current age and body mass index (BMI). However, it cannot be ruled out that the overall healthier lifestyle of women who breastfeed for longer has an impact. The mechanisms by which breastfeeding changes the metabolism have not yet been clarified and will be investigated in further studies.

"On average, women with gestational diabetes breastfeed less frequently and shorter than non-diabetic mothers," says Dr. Sandra Hummel, head of the study. "The goal is now to develop strategies that improve long-term breastfeeding behavior, particularly of mothers with gestational diabetes." The Healthy in Life network already has specific recommendations for action, as requested by it. The content of the nationwide uniform recommendations for action in the area of ​​nutrition and exercise is supported by all relevant specialist societies, institutions and associations that advise young families. These include the professional associations of gynecologists (BVF), midwives (DHV) and pediatricians (BVKJ) as well as the German Societies for Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG) and for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ). Heike Kreutz, aid

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