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Breastfeed Med. 2013 Oct;8(5):454-7. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2013.0072.

Infant feeding in America: enough to break a mother's heart?

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Director, Women's Health Services Research Unit, Center for Research on Health Care; and Associate Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death of women around the world. Diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and blood pressure control are all recognized as key elements of preventing cardiovascular disease. Infant feeding has received less attention, but the studies reviewed here indicate that lactation may also play an important role in determining women's future risk of heart disease. A growing body of literature indicates that mothers who prematurely discontinue lactation face increased risk of visceral adiposity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and subclinical cardiovascular disease, as well as cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Breastfeeding is not always easy, but neither is dieting, exercise, smoking cessation, or treating hypertension. In order to effectively fight heart disease, efforts are needed to promote all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, which for women includes breastfeeding their babies.

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