Improving Breastfeeding Rates Among Women with T2DM

The World Health Organization, among many other health agencies, recommends breastfeeding for the first four to six months of a newborn’s life.

The World Health Organization, among many other health agencies, recommends breastfeeding for the first four to six months of a newborn’s life.

According to new research, long-term breastfeeding appears to protect children against some diseases, e.g., type 1 diabetes (T1DM), type 2 diabetes (T2DM), and childhood obesity later.

The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine recently published a study comparing the prevalence of long-term breastfeeding among women with T2DM to women with T1DM. The report suggested improving breastfeeding rates among women with T2DM.

Using semi-structured questionnaires, researchers interviewed 149 women with diabetes (44 women with T2DM, 105 women with T1DM) about long-term breastfeeding, which the researchers defined as any breastfeeding that occurred in the 4 months postpartum.

Women were included if they delivered an infant to a between June 2012 and December 2013.

The researchers found that at hospital discharge, women had “good intentions” — almost all (98%) of participants intended to breastfeed.

Four months postpartum, however, women with T2DM were breastfeeding at significantly decreased rates (34%) compared to women with T1DM (61%). Among women with pre-gestational diabetes, predictors for successful long-term breastfeeding were lower BMI pre-pregnancy, not smoking, and many feedings in the first 24 hours post-partum.

One factor may have had an unanticipated impact: due to budget cuts, the hospital employed fewer nurses and those that remained had less time to assist with breastfeeding.

Also, obesity (from psychosocial or hormonal factors) has been recognized as a negative predictor for successful, long-term breastfeeding.

The researchers indicated that since many women with T2DM are obese, secondary factors like hormone balance, large breasts, and perhaps psychosocial behavior could influence their decisions to stop breastfeeding.