Breastfeeding for at least six months was associated with a mothers experiencing reduced incidence of age-related macular degeneration later in life, according to a large study.
“From a public health point of view, promotion of longer lactation could have a significant impact on eye health in older women,” the study authors said.
The Tromsø Study, a prospective, population-based cohort analysis conducted in Tromsø, Norway, included 1,512 post-menopausal women. All participants had a complete physical examination, underwent retinal photography and completed a questionnaire on reproductive history, duration of breastfeeding and use of contraceptives and/or hormone replacement therapy. Patient age was 65 to 87 years.
Forty-eight women (3.2%) had late AMD and 378 (25%) had at least one large drusen greater than 125 μm.
Data adjusted for age, smoking, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, number of children, age at first childbirth and physical activity showed that a longer duration of breastfeeding per child correlated strongly with reduced odds for late AMD (odds ratio per month, 0.80).
There were no relationships between AMD or large drusen and contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy, parity, age at first childbirth, age at menarche or age at menopause, the authors said.
Further study is warranted, they said.
Disclosure: See the study for a full list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.