Duration of lactation and maternal metabolism at 3 years postpartum

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 May;19(5):941-50. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1660.


Objective: Lactation has been associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome in mothers. We examined the relation between breastfeeding duration and metabolic markers at 3 years postpartum.

Methods: We used linear regression to relate duration of lactation to maternal glucose and lipid metabolism, inflammatory markers, and anthropometry at 3 years postpartum among 570 participants with 3-year blood samples (175 fasting) in Project Viva, a cohort study of mothers and children.

Results: Among the participants, 88% had initiated breastfeeding, and 26% had breastfed >or=12 months. In multivariate analyses, we observed no consistent trends relating duration of lactation to maternal metabolism at 3 years postpartum. Women who exclusively breastfed for >6 months had lower postpartum weight retention at 3 years than women with shorter durations of exclusive breastfeeding (multivariate adjusted predicted mean -0.5, -3.6-2.6 kg vs. 4.8, 2.0-7.6 kg for those who never exclusively breastfed, partial F p = 0.03).

Conclusions: In this prospective cohort study, we did not observe a dose-response relationship between duration of lactation and metabolic risk at 3 years postpartum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Weight
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Interleukin-6
  • Lipids
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human
  • C-Reactive Protein