A new systematic review of the literature not only confirmed that breastfeeding for as short as 1-4 months can have a protective affect against high blood pressure in women, but that lactation also can protect women across an extended follow-up of years to decades. Among 15 studies reviewed that had longer-term follow-up, 67% of those evaluated for elevated blood pressure—and 100% of the studies that assessed for an outcome of hypertension—showed a protective association with lactation, as reported in an article published in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
The article entitled “Effect of Lactation on Maternal Hypertension: A Systematic Review” was coauthored by Eliana Bonifacino, MD and Jennifer Corbelli, MD, Montefiore Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA; Eleanor Schwartz, MD, University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento; Hyejo Jun, MD, Health Center for Women, Saint Paul, MN; and Charles Wessel, University of Pittsburgh, PA.
The researchers found that, compared to the studies with short-term follow-up, those that included longer durations of follow-up were more likely to show a positive association with breastfeeding.
“Once again, it is confirmed that breastfeeding provides major health benefits not only to the infant but, also, no less so, to the nursing mother,” says Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine.