Women who have had gestational diabetes now have another way of reducing their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Research published last month showed that breastfeeding babies for longer reduces the mother’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
The 25 year study followed 4000 women who had been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It concluded that breastfeeding for 6-12 months can reduce the mother’s risk of type 2 diabetes by 9%, while breastfeeding for one to two years reduces the risk by 15%.
Deborah Schofield, General Manager of Health Services at Diabetes WA, said the findings give women another lever they can pull to manage their long term health.
“There are currently more than 3300 Western Australian women living with gestational diabetes as part of their pregnancy, and we know that on average, women who have had gestational diabetes have a seven-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes within ten years”, Deborah said.
“There are a number of things that women can do to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. These findings may provide input into a mother’s decision about breastfeeding, and how long to breastfeed for.”
Diabetes WA supports all Western Australians with diabetes, and those at risk of developing the condition. The organisation is currently piloting Baby Steps, an online education and behaviour change program to help mothers who have had gestational diabetes to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. The Australia-wide pilot is an initiative funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
“Baby Steps has been shown to help women in the UK improve their physical activity levels to reduce their risk of type2 diabetes, so Diabetes WA has adapted the program for Australian women and is currently evaluating it. So far the pilot has received positive feedback from the women using it”, Deborah said.
Mothers who are interested in registering their details for when the Baby Steps program goes live can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1300 001 880.