Breastfeeding for longer than six months has been found to be independently associated with smaller waist circumference in the decade after delivery.
Researchers examined data on 678 women enrolled in the Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Health (POUCH) cohort in the US who also participated in the POUCHmoms Study seven to 15 years after delivery, to examine the association between breastfeeding and waist circumference (WC).
After a mean follow-up of 11 years, they found women breastfeeding for longer than six months had a WC which was 4.4 cm (95% CI -7.2 to -1.6) smaller compared to women who did not breastfeed at all and 3.5 cm (95% CI -5.7 to -1.2) smaller compared to those who breastfed for six months or less.
The authors suggested that the results “raise the possibility that a threshold effect may exist” that breastfeeding for more than six months is associated with improved long-term maternal central adiposity. “Our results warrant further analyses of cumulative lifetime duration of breastfeeding to understand the magnitude of the relationship with maternal central adiposity over time. Breastfeeding duration may be important to consider when studying long-term maternal cardiovascular and metabolic health,” they said.
The findings are published in the Journal of Women's Health.