Boosting the benefits of breastfeeding

Health Watch

COLUMBUS, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— For years, research has supported the benefits of breastfeeding. It helps mom recover more quickly from delivery and return to pre-pregnancy weight. And for newborns, there’s evidence breastfeeding can protect against a variety of infections and illnesses. Now a new study shows exercise during pregnancy can give a breast milk an extra boost.

Andrea Berardi wanted to give her baby a healthy head start. She made the decision to breastfeed, but it took some adjusting at first, for both of them.

“We kept trucking along. Kept trying. And, I’m really glad I did because we’ve both kind of fallen into this pattern that is really helpful,” shared Berardi.

Andrea’s healthy habits started before her baby was even born and now there’s evidence exercise may have had an unexpected pay off. Researcher Kristin Stanford and her team found that even moderate exercise during pregnancy reduces a baby’s lifelong risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. They started the study with a group of pregnant mice. Half had exercise wheels.

“We took moms that were exercising and moms that were sedentary, and when the pups were born, we swapped the litters,” explained Kristin Stanford, PhD.

The researchers found the baby mice who drank breast milk from the moms who exercised had lower body weight, reduced fat mass, and increased glucose tolerance.

“It was really exciting for us because it was like just the act of drinking that milk kind of confirmed these beneficial effects of maternal exercise,” recalled. Stanford.

Then scientists measured the physical activity of 150 pregnant and postpartum women. They found women with more steps per day had more of the human milk compound in their breastmilk known as 3SL. Researchers believe the boost in 3SL protects baby against metabolic diseases like diabetes. One more reason for moms and moms to-be to keep moving.

The Ohio State University researchers say because many women are not able to successfully breastfeed, scientists are studying whether they can isolate the 3SL compound and add it to infant formula. The scientists also partnered with researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center to conduct the research.

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