The benefits of breast-feeding are well documented in babies, but now a large, new study suggests that it can also reduce women's risk of high blood pressure later in life. In the study of nearly 75,000 Australian women 45 and older, researchers found that those who had breast-fed for at least three months per child, or for more than six months total, had significantly reduced risk of high blood pressure, compared with mothers who did not breast-feed. Further, the study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, also found no meaningful difference between mothers who did not breast-feed and women who did not bear children. The risk of hypertension fell with longer breast-feeding duration, while the apparent benefits of breast-feeding diminished after age 64. The authors conclude that women should be encouraged to breast-feed for as long as possible and that breast-feeding history should be looked at when considering risk of high blood pressure later in life. Read the abstract.
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