Does Breastfeeding Lower Alzheimer's Risk for Mom?

Another day, another study touting the benefits of breastfeeding.

Last week, we learned that babies who breast-feed score higher on intelligence tests later in life; the latest installment in the BREASTFEED YOUR BABY ARE YOU LISTENING campaign tells us that the more time a woman spends breastfeeding, the lower her risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later on.

Researchers from Cambridge University have found that the biological effects of breastfeeding, like restoring women’s insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, may protect the brain from cognitive decline. This could have important implications in understanding and treating Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s is the world’s most common cognitive disorder and it already affects 35.6 million people,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Molly Fox, told the UK’s The Independent . “In the future, we expect it to spread most in low and middle-income countries. So it is vital that we develop low-cost, large-scale strategies to protect people against this devastating disease.”

There are some caveats: This research was based on just 81 women, all of whom were white, elderly and British, and a similar study in China actually found a link between breastfeeding and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

But, if you haven’t heard, breastfeeding can lower your baby’s risk of diarrhea, infection, diabetes and eczema, reduce your own risk of ovarian and breast cancer and promote mother-baby bonding.