Effects of breastfeeding on the mother

Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001 Feb;48(1):143-58. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(05)70290-x.


In the rush to find nutrient alternatives to breastfeeding, a theme that dominated research on infant feeding throughout the twentieth century, only recently have new findings that reconfirm the importance of breastfeeding for maternal and child health begun to influence medical texts and health policy. Approximately 30 years of increasingly rigorous and positive research findings have led to the rediscovery of breastfeeding as a valid and evidence-based health intervention for infants. Unfortunately, because much of the research was designed to assess human milk as a nutrient replacement for infant formula, the literature on the effects of breastfeeding on maternal health remain limited. Nonetheless, a clear pattern of positive physiologic changes that lead to improved short-term and long-term health sequelae are emerging. All patients and their families should be informed fully as to the positive preventive health effects of breastfeeding not only for infants but also for mothers. Women have many difficult choices to make; it behooves physicians to ensure that they receive all of the facts on which to base these decisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding* / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Epidemiologic Research Design
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control