Association of Breastfeeding Duration with 12-Month Postpartum Blood Lipids in a Predominately Lower-Income Hispanic Pregnancy Cohort in Los Angeles

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Mar 4;19(5):3008. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19053008.


Breastfeeding may protect women's long-term cardiovascular health; however, breastfeeding-related postpartum lipid changes remain unclear. We aim to examine associations of breastfeeding duration with maternal lipids at 12 months postpartum. In a subsample (n = 79) of the Maternal and Developmental Risks from Environmental and Social Stressors (MADRES) cohort, breastfeeding status and duration at 3, 6, and 12 months postpartum were self-reported. Serum levels of lipids, including total cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), high-, low-, and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, LDL-C, VLDL-C), were measured from blood samples collected at 12 months postpartum. We used linear regression models to compare lipids by breastfeeding duration, adjusting for potential confounders. Women who were breastfeeding at 12 months had higher HDL-C (mean: 41.74 mg/dL, 95% CI: 37.27-46.74 vs. 35.11 mg/dL, 95% CI: 31.42-39.24), lower TG (80.45 mg/dL, 95% CI: 66.20-97.77 vs. 119.11 mg/dL, 95% CI: 98.36-144.25), and lower VLDL-C (16.31 mg/dL, 95% CI: 13.23, 20.12 vs. 23.09 mg/dL, 95% CI: 18.61-28.65) compared to women who breastfed for <6 months. No lipids were significantly different between women who breastfed for 6-11 months and for <6 months. Each month's increase in breastfeeding duration was significantly, inversely associated with TG and VLDL-C and positively with HDL-C. Adjusting for fasting status, demographics, pre-pregnancy body mass index, breastfeeding frequency, and pregnancy complications did not appreciably change effect estimates. Breastfeeding at 12 months postpartum and a longer duration of breastfeeding in the first year postpartum were both associated with increased HDL-C and decreased TG and VLDL-C at 12 months postpartum.

Keywords: breastfeeding; lipids; longitudinal cohort; maternal health; postpartum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Cholesterol
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Lipids
  • Los Angeles
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Triglycerides


  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol