NEW YORK, USA - Breast-fed babies appear to be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes when they reach adolescence, according to findings published in the medical journal Diabetes Care.
'Dramatic increases in childhood obesity and the emergence of type 2 diabetes in youth motivate research to identify lifestyle approaches to primary prevention of both conditions,' write Dr Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and colleagues.
To investigate factors related to the occurrence of type 2 diabetes in individuals 10 to 21 years of age, the researchers used a subset of data from a larger study. The analysis included 80 subjects with type 2 diabetes who were matched to 167 'controls' without diabetes.
The breast-feeding rate was lower in subjects with type 2 diabetes compared with the control subjects, at 20 versus 27 per cent in African Americans; 50 versus 84 per cent for Hispanics; and 39 per cent versus 78 per cent for non-Hispanic whites, respectively.
Regardless of ethnic group, further analysis indicated that the protective effect of breast feeding against type 2 diabetes was in large part attributable to its effect in moderating current childhood weight.
Nonetheless, breast-feeding in itself had a protective effect, Dr Mayer-Davis and colleagues found.
'Given other well-established reasons for breast-feeding,' the researchers conclude, 'renewed efforts to encourage breast-feeding in populations at high risk for type 2 diabetes may be useful.'