You know breastfeeding provides the nutrition your baby needs. You know that if he wasn’t breastfed he’d have more colds, viruses, infections. But do you know that by breastfeeding you are helping to ward off diseases that could affect him for the rest of his life?
What you might not know is that breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of your baby developing both types of disease. It can also reduce the risk of you developing Type 2 diabetes. Here’s what the research says: A 2008 study comparing children who developed Type 1 diabetes with children who did not reported that “up to one half of the diabetes cases could be attributed to modifiable factors.” In other words, about half the cases could have been prevented. The most important factor, according to the researchers? You probably guessed it: breastfeeding. The longer the baby was breastfed, the less likely he or she was to develop Type 1 diabetes, and the older the baby was when formula or cow’s milk was introduced, the lower the risk as well. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months, with continued breastfeeding as solids are added to the baby’s diet would provide the most protection.