Lingering Benefits of Nursing

Parents often hear about the powerful short-term benefits of breastfeeding. But the good news doesn’t stop when your baby is weaned. We’re learning more all the time about the enduring gift you give each time you nurse. When you’re up at night tenderly feeding your baby, you’re also silently taking care of your teenager in the future.

Sometimes it’s hard to engage teens in healthy behavior, but when baby’s who nurse have grown to be adolescents, they are likely to have a 14 percent lower cholesterol than their peers — which translates into about a 14 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease. Infant nutrition appears to permanently alter the lipid profile later in life, and the risk of developing atherosclerosis, and therefore cardiovascular disease in general. The study that uncovered this benefit was performed at the Institute of Child Health in London and published in the May 15, 2004 Lancet. This study is welcome news at a time when overall teen obesity, elevated cholesterol, and heart disease are more common than ever before. What kids eat when they are babies can benefit them for years to come.

Published on: May 17, 2004
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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