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Gestational Diabetes and the Power of Breastfeeding

Gestational Diabetes and the Power of Breastfeeding

When Mariah Carey developed gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) before she delivered twins in April of 2011 she hoped giving birth would put her worries about diabetes behind her! And a new study shows she might have done just that, since she breastfed the twins from April until July. That’s just enough time to afford her protection from developing type 2 diabetes for at least 15 years, says a study from three German research centers. Seems that breastfeeding for at least three months affects a mother’s metabolism, reducing metabolites that contribute to development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Up to 9.2 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. develop GDM, but some don’t breastfeed for even three months and many don’t do it for as long as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends. The AAP says babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months and then continue with supplemental food for at least a year or longer. This protects baby from obesity and strengthens the immune system and helps mom avoid diabetes and certain cancers.

Since 60 percent of women with GDM eventually go on to develop type 2 diabetes and within the study population 50 percent developed it within 10 years, breastfeeding is a huge protection.

So whether you had GDM or not, try to breastfeed—and if you’re worried about the conflict between work and breastfeeding, take heart. Breastfeeding moms miss fewer days of work because the baby is sick less frequently.

Medically reviewed in August 2018.

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