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Breastfeeding helps protect mothers

Women who breastfeed are less likely to suffer from heart attacks and stroke, research suggests.

A study from the University of Pittsburgh in the US found that women who breastfed were 10% less likely to suffer heart attacks, stroke or heart disease in later life.

The survey of 139,681 women who had passed through the menopause suggested that even breastfeeding for at least a month could help cut the chances of developing the heart disease-related conditions of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The research, published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology, suggests that the benefits of breastfeeding lasts many years, as the women had stopped breastfeeding on average 35 years previously.

One of the authors of the study, Dr Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, said: "Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, so it's vitally important for us to know what we can do to protect ourselves.

"We have known for years that breastfeeding is important for babies' health; we now know that it is important for mothers' health as well.

"The longer a mother nurses her baby, the better for both of them. Our study provides another good reason for workplace policies to encourage women to breastfeed their infants."

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