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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

Endometriosis is a common cause of chronic pelvic pain and menstrual cramps, and affects about 10% of women in the U.S. The researchers conducting this study analyzed data from 72,394 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II that began in 1989, who gave birth one or more times. Endometriosis that was confirmed by laparoscopic surgery, and verbally reported by the women in their medical history was more common among women who breast fed for less than 1 month than woman who breast fed for a longer period of time. For each of their pregnancies, every 3 month increase in the average duration of breast feeding without any bottle feeding per each pregnancy, was associated with a 14% decrease risk for endometriosis.

170461025Commentary: There are numerous reasons, for baby and for mother, why breast feeding is essential to optimal health. This study just adds to the list and is not surprising in that lactation suppresses ovulation and thus could be preventive of endometriosis. For women who can breast feed and for infants who can be breast fed, every strategy and support should be offered to facilitate breast feeding. For women, recent research is indicating that breast feeding can reduce their risk of developing hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The long-term benefits to infants include immune advantages against bacteria and viruses, lowering the infants risk of developing asthma and allergies, and infants who are exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months have fewer ear infections, respiratory infections, diarrhea, hospitalizations and less need for medical care.

Reference: Farland L, et al. History of breast feeding and risk of incident endometriosis: Prospective cohort study. BMJ 2017 Aug 29; 358:j3778

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