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Mol Metab. 2014 Jan 21;3(3):284-92. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2014.01.002. eCollection 2014 Jun.

Beneficial effects of breastfeeding in women with gestational diabetes mellitus.

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Institute of Diabetes Research, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Forschergruppe Diabetes, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ingolstädter Landstraße 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany ; Forschergruppe Diabetes e.V., Ingolstädter Landstraße 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany.


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) increases the future risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). There is now a growing evidence that breastfeeding has short- and long-term health benefits for mothers with GDM. Mothers with GDM who breastfeed have improved lipid and glucose metabolic profiles for the first 3 months after birth. However, women with GDM are less likely to breastfeed and, if they do, breastfeeding is usually continued for a shorter duration compared with women without GDM. One long-term prospective study followed women with GDM from delivery for up to 19 years postpartum, and found that breastfeeding for ≥3 months reduced the risk of T2DM and delayed the development of T2DM by a further 10 years compared with breastfeeding for <3 months. However, the physiological mechanisms underlying the protective effects of breastfeeding are still unknown, even though it is important to gain a full understanding of the pathways involved in these effects. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the recent developments in the field of GDM and breastfeeding. We reviewed data from animal experiments and human studies. We also provide insight into the molecular pathways and describe promising topics for future research.


Breastfeeding; Gestational diabetes mellitus; Glucose homeostasis; Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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