Lactation and maternal subclinical cardiovascular disease among premenopausal women

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Jul;207(1):46.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.04.030. Epub 2012 May 2.


Objective: The objective of the study was to examine the association between lactation and maternal subclinical cardiovascular disease.

Study design: The Women and Infants Study of Healthy Hearts enrolled 607 mothers who delivered a singleton between 1997 and 2002. In 2007, participating mothers underwent measurements of carotid intima-media thickness, lumen diameter, adventitial diameter, and carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity. Multivariable linear and logistic regressions were used to estimate the associations between lactation and subclinical cardiovascular disease.

Results: Compared with mothers who breastfed for 3 or more months after every birth, mothers who never breastfed exhibited a 0.13 mm larger lumen diameter (95% confidence interval, 0.04-0.22) and a 0.12 mm larger adventitial diameter (95% confidence interval, 0.02-0.22) in models adjusting for age, parity, birth outcome, sociodemographic variables, health-related behaviors, family history, gestational weight gain, early adult body mass index, current body mass index, C-reactive protein, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride, high-density lipoprotein, glucose, and insulin levels.

Conclusion: Mothers who do not breastfeed have vascular characteristics associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Carotid Arteries / pathology
  • Carotid Arteries / physiology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / physiology*
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Premenopause
  • Risk Factors