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January 15, 2021 05:00am
By Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor
A recent study has found that women who breastfeed their infants exclusively for 7 to 12 months may have a significantly lower risk of early menopause than those who breastfeed their infants for less than a month.
A recent study has found that women who breastfeed their infants exclusively for 7 to 12 months may have a significantly lower risk of early menopause than those who breastfeed their infants for less than a month. In addition, the study, funded by the NIH, suggests that pregnancy can reduce the risk of early menopause.
Previous studies have suggested that menopause before the age of 45 years increases the risk of early death, cognitive decline, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the earlier studies tended to focus on the timing instead of the risk of early menopause.
For the current study, researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 women aged 25 to 42 years in the Nurses’ Health Study II. From 1989 to 2015, the participants responded to detailed questionnaires, providing health information, and medical history, including pregnancy history, every 2 years.
The study found that women who had 1 full-term pregnancy had an 8% lower risk of early menopause compared to women who had never been pregnant or who had been pregnant for less than 6 months. Women who had 2 pregnancies had a 16% risk, while those who had 3 pregnancies had a 22% lower risk.
Women who breastfed for a total of 25 months or more during their premenopausal years had a 26% lower risk than women who breastfed for less than a month. Similarly, women who breastfed exclusively 7 to 12 months had a 28% lower risk of early menopause compared to those who breastfed for less than a month.
In conclusion, the study did not determine why pregnancy and breast-feeding might lower the risk of early menopause. However, the researchers feel that because pregnancy and breastfeeding stop ovulation, the slowing of the egg loss may delay menopause.
Pregnancy, breastfeeding may lower risk of early menopause, NIH-funded study suggests. NIH News Releases.https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/pregnancy-breastfeeding-may-lower-risk-early-menopause-nih-study-suggests. Published January 22, 2020. Accessed January 23, 2020.