Women who nurse their children may enjoy cognitive benefits, as new findings featured on Science Daily report a link between breast-feeding and proper insulin tolerance, which is an important factor in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Dr. Molly Fox from the University of Cambridge and her colleagues interviewed 81 women with and without AD who were between ages 70 and 100. Topics included their reproductive and breast-feeding history, as well as their mental health. Relatives were also interviewed for further information.

Although the researchers only worked with a small group, they found a link between breast-feeding and Alzheimer’s disease: women (especially those who didn't have a family history of dementia) who breast-fed in their younger years had lower risk of developing the disease, and the longer they nursed, the lower the chances they had in developing AD.

Researchers believe that the good effects of breast-feeding on cognitive health may be attributed to how it restores the body’s insulin sensitivity after pregnancy, increasing glucose tolerance. Brain insulin resistance contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s diseases, and breast-feeding may be a good way to avoid it.

To reap these health benefits, the American Academy of Pediatrics, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends mothers to nurse their babies for at least one year and to continue so for as long as they feel comfortable.

(Photo by Ian D. Keating via Flickr Creative Commons)

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