(HealthDay News) – The combination of giving birth and breastfeeding is associated with lower odds of having high blood pressure in later life, according to a study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

To examine the correlations between parity and breastfeeding and maternal high blood pressure, Samantha J. Lupton, from the University of Western Sydney, and colleagues used data from 74,785 women participating in the 45 and Up Study, Australia. Participants were age 45 years or older, with an intact uterus, and had not been diagnosed with high blood pressure before pregnancy.

The researchers found that, compared with nulliparous women, women with the combination of parity and breastfeeding had significantly lower odds of having high blood pressure (adjusted odds ratio, 0.89). No significant difference was observed between mothers who did not breastfeed and nulliparous women (adjusted odds ratio, 1.06; P=0.2). Compared with parous women who never breastfed, the odds of having high blood pressure were significantly lower for women who breastfed for longer than six months in their lifetime, or >3 months per child, on average. Longer breastfeeding durations were linked to lower odds of high blood pressure. The correlations were no longer significant for most women over the age of 64 years.

“Women should be encouraged to breastfeed for as long as possible and a woman’s breastfeeding history should be taken into account when assessing her likelihood of high blood pressure in later life,” write the authors.

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