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Media Release: Human Milk: The Best Gift for Future Heart Health

Contact: Kim Cavaliero, ext. 233, Mary Lofton, ext 271, or Mary Hurt, ext. 286
(847) 519-7730

Schaumburg, IL (February 2002) February is American Heart Month and human milk provides a lifelong gift for future heart health. While the immunological benefits of human milk for the infant are well-known, there is also compelling evidence that there are lifelong benefits for infants lucky enough to be breastfed by their mothers.

According to three studies published in the first week of February 2002, researchers have found that babies who gain weight too fast in the first year of life can become obese and develop high blood pressure later in life. According to Dr. Nicolas Stettler of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study appearing in Pediatrics, "Early infancy seems to be a critical period for the establishment of obesity."

Dr. Stettler says that one easy way to prevent infants from putting on too much weight is to follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, i.e., give an infant nothing but human milk up to the age of six months, add solids slowly after this, and continue breastfeeding for the first year or longer.

Extensive research suggests that breastfeeding not only plays a future role in minimizing obesity but also helps prevent insulin-dependent diabetes, and high cholesterol, conditions which are among the highest risk factors in developing heart disease.

Insulin-dependent diabetes is also less common among children who had been breastfed. Those who were exclusively breastfed during the first three months of life had a 34% lower risk of developing this disease later in life.

Several studies also indicate that babies provided human milk were more likely to have good cholesterol readings later on in life. Exclusive breastfeeding in the early months was a maker for higher HDL Cholesterol, good cholesterol, and lower LDL, bad cholesterol, later in life. In a 2001 study in Lancet, breast milk consumption was associated with lower later blood pressure in children born prematurely.

Extensive research points to compelling advantages to infants, mothers, families, and the environment from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding significantly decreases the risks to a large number of acute and chronic diseases. It further suggests that peer support is fundamental in breastfeeding success rates.

Since 1956, La Leche League International has been providing education through mother-to-mother support. If you would like additional information on breastfeeding, please contact La Leche League International, the world's foremost authority on breastfeeding, at (847) 519-7730 or visit us on the web at

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