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Breast Feeding One Year Plus Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, May 13, 2008 6:32 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Living Well, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Joints and Muscles

Rheumatoid arthritis incidents were reduced the longer a woman breast-fed a Swedish study finds.



 IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ rheumatoid arthritis/ U.S. Gov, NIH, author: arnavaz


As if there isn't enough good news about the positive results from breast feeding on children. Now comes word about an advantage for their mothers.

Women who breast feed for over a year reduce their risk of rheumatoid arthritis according to a Swedish study.  The protection was not seen if the baby was bottle-fed, according to the researchers from Malmo University.

Women who breast fed more than a year saw a risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cut in half.

It had been theorized that if a woman took oral contraceptives they had a similar protection against RA because they provide the hormone that is also elevated in pregnancy.  But taking oral contraceptives did not have a protection factor.  

The Malmo University Hospital study included 136 women with RA and 544 without.

Among the women who breast-fed for 13 months, they were half as likely to get RA when compared to women who had never breast-fed.  Breast feed for one to 12 months and the protection against the disease dropped to 25 percent.  While more women are breast feeding for longer there is also a corresponding decline in the number of women with RA.

RA is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own healthy tissues as it would a foreign substance.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the lining of the joints. It can lead to painful long-term joint damage, loss of movement and disability. RA affects 1.3 million Americans and there is no cure but drugs to address the symptoms.

The study can be found in the May 13 issue of Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. #

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