Lactation may protect women with previous gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) from developing type 2 diabetes mellitus, but the results of existing studies are inconsistent, ranging from null to beneficial. We aimed to conduct a systematic review to gather available evidence. Databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, PubMed, and EMBASE were searched on December 15, 2015, without restriction of language or publication year. A manual search was also conducted. We included observational studies (cross-sectional, case-control, and cohort study) with information on lactation and type 2 diabetes mellitus incidence among women with previous GDM. We excluded case studies without control data. Data synthesis was conducted by random-effect meta-analysis. Fourteen reports of 9 studies were included. Overall risk of bias using RoBANS ranged from low to unclear. Longer lactation for more than 4 to 12 weeks postpartum had risk reduction of type 2 diabetes mellitus compared with shorter lactation (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.01-55.86; OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.35-0.89; OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.13-0.36; type 2 diabetes mellitus evaluation time < 2 y, 2-5 y, and >5 y, respectively). Exclusive lactation for more than 6 to 9 weeks postpartum also had lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus compared with exclusive formula (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.22-0.81). The findings support the evidence that longer and exclusive lactation may be beneficial for type 2 diabetes mellitus prevention in women with previous GDM. However, the evidence relies only on observational studies. Therefore, further studies are required to address the true causal effect.
Keywords: gestational diabetes mellitus; lactation; meta-analysis; prevention; systematic review; type 2 diabetes mellitus.
© 2017 The Authors. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.