AlgemeneGezondheid.Org

Breastfeeding lowers risk of heart attacks or strokes

August 30, 2017

"Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so it's vitally important for us to know what we can do to protect ourselves," said Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology, and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. "We have known for years that breastfeeding is important for babies' health; we now know that it is important for mothers' health as well."

According to the study, postmenopausal women who breastfed for at least one month had lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, all known to cause heart disease. Women who had breastfed their babies for more than a year were 10 percent less likely to have had a heart attack, stroke, or developed heart disease than women who had never breastfed.

Dr. Schwarz and colleagues found that the benefits from breastfeeding were long-term ?? an average of 35 years had passed since women enrolled in the study had last breastfed an infant.

"The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them," Dr. Schwarz pointed out. "Our study provides another good reason for workplace policies to encourage women to breastfeed their infants."

The findings are based on 139,681 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative study of chronic disease, initiated in 1994.

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Dr. Suglia and her team examined the impact of exposure to community violence on physiological markers of stress response in children. More specifically, they looked at the influence of post-traumatic stress symptoms (e.g. difficulty with attention or sleep, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, worries) on the daily cortisol response among 28 girls and 15 boys aged 7-13 years old. Mothers rated their child's exposure to community violence (e.g. hearing gunshots, witnessing or experiencing shoving, hitting, punching, knife attacks, shootings) and the resulting post-traumatic stress symptoms. The researchers also collected saliva samples from the children four times a day over three days to measure cortisol production over the course of the day.

They found a link between exposure to community violence and a disruption to the stress pathways in the body. In particular, the higher children scored on the stress symptoms, the greater the disruption to their cortisol production pattern and the higher their cortisol levels over the course of the day, especially in the afternoon and evening.

Dr. Shakira Franco Suglia concludes: "Our study indicates that important biological effects occur in children living in high-crime neighborhoods, although with less severe distress symptoms than those experienced by children diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. As a result, they may not come to the attention of healthcare providers and a large number of children may be impacted with broad adverse health effects."

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