New Study in Journal of Hepatology: Can Breastfeeding Your Baby Lower Your Risk of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Later in Life?

 

A new published research study shows that women who breastfeed at least one child for six months or more are at a lower risk of having nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in there mid-life. The study was done by University of California School of Medicine and Kaiser Permanente researchers.

In the United States, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease. One of the reasons NAFLD is so deadly and dangerous is because it usually does not cause any noticeable symptoms until it is in its most severe state by which time advanced cirrhosis is common. Both genetic and environmental factors can raise the risk of having NAFLD and diabetes is a serious risk factor.

The findings of this study were published on November 1st in the Journal of Hepatology.

The researchers used information gathered from a study on Coronary Artery risk, which included information from over 800 women studied for up to thirty years. The study included both black and white women who were examined every 2 to 5 years. When the study began in 1985, each woman was evaluated for biochemical and additional risk factors. Each woman would update the study if she had a baby and they also recorded how long each child was breastfed.

After the completion of the study, a computed tomography, or a comprehensive scan of each woman’s abdomen, was done to see the levels of fat near the liver—which is a marker for NAFLD.

This specific study was able to determine each women’s risk of NAFLD before pregnancy and could look at how breastfeeding affected her disease risk.

The study found that women who had breastfeed at least one child for longer than six months, had a lower chance of having NAFLD compared to those who breastfeed for one month or less.

Earlier research suggested that the only prevention for NAFLD is to practice a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy diet. This study is interesting because while it is widely known that children who are breastfed enjoy certain benefits, this study shows that there may be significant health benefits of breastfeeding to mothers as well.

Currently NAFLD has been connected with diabetes and insulin resistance as well as “lifestyle behaviors.” One researcher from the study explains that metabolic diseases and NAFLD have common relationships with socioeconomic factors. Therefore, more information regarding a person’s economic standing, social status, as well as information regarding how active they are and what they eat may need to be done to see the real connections between lactation and the prevention of NAFLD and how lactation can affect disease severity.

Read the original article here.


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