Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Risk of Stroke Post-Menopause

Stroke risk 19% lower with breastfeeding for 1 to 6 months; stronger link for longer duration.
Stroke risk 19% lower with breastfeeding for 1 to 6 months; stronger link for longer duration.

HealthDay News — Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of stroke among older women, with a stronger correlation for longer duration of breastfeeding, according to a study published online August 22 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Lisette T. Jacobson, PhD, from the University of Kansas in Wichita, and colleagues examined the correlation between breastfeeding and stroke using data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study with follow-up through 2010. The average age of participants was 63.7 years at baseline, and 58 percent reported ever breastfeeding. 

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The researchers found that 3.4% of the 80,191 parous women had experienced a stroke within a follow-up period of 12.6 years. Compared with women who had never breastfed, those who reported ever breastfeeding had a significantly lower risk of stroke after adjustment for non-modifiable potential confounders (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.77). The strongest correlation was seen for non-Hispanic black women (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.52). The risk of stroke was 19% lower with breastfeeding for a relatively short duration (1 to 6 months; adjusted hazard ratio, 0.81); the correlation seemed stronger with longer duration of breastfeeding and for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black women.

"Study results show an association and dose-response relationship between breastfeeding and lower risk of stroke among post-menopausal women after adjustment for multiple stroke risk factors and lifestyle variables," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text