Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding and Alzheimer’s Disease

on January 12, 2016

January is Alzheimer Awareness month. The Prince Edward Island Alzheimer Society webpage states that more women are living with the disease than men. As breastfeeding is generally done by younger women and Alzheimer’s Disease is primarily a disease of the elderly what is the connection between them?
A small University of Cambridge study of a group of women between the ages of 70 and 100, which was published in 2013, showed a strong link between breastfeeding and the length of time a woman had breastfed, and a reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease. The link was not affected when the researchers took into account variables such as: the age of the participant, her education history, her age when she had her first baby, her age at menopause or her smoking and alcohol consumption history.

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The study showed three main trends:
⦁ Women who breastfed had a reduced Alzheimer’s Disease risk compared to women who had not breastfed.
⦁ The effect showed a correlation to breastfeeding duration; the longer women had breastfed the lower their risk.
⦁ Women who had a higher ratio between the number of months spent pregnant during their lives compared to their months of breastfeeding had a higher Alzheimer’s risk.

The positive trends were unfortunately less pronounced for women who had a family history (parent or sibling) with dementia.
More details about the study and the researchers’ thoughts about why breastfeeding may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease can be found at the University of Cambridge website.
http://www.lllc.ca/thursday-tip-breastfeeding-and-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-disease

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org/.

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at http://www.lllc.ca/join-lllc-friends so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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