Duration of Lactation and Maternal Adipokines at 3 Years Postpartum

  1. Janet Rich-Edwards7,8
  1. 1Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  2. 2Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  3. 3Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
  4. 4Obesity Prevention Program, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
  5. 5Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  6. 6Division of Research, Epidemiology and Prevention Section, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California
  7. 7Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  8. 8Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  1. Corresponding author: Alison M. Stuebe, astuebe{at}


OBJECTIVE Lactation has been associated with reduced maternal risk of type 2 diabetes, the metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. We examined the relationship between breastfeeding duration and maternal adipokines at 3 years postpartum.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS We used linear regression to relate the duration of lactation to maternal leptin, adiponectin, ghrelin, and peptide YY (PYY) at 3 years postpartum among 570 participants with 3-year postpartum blood samples (178 fasting), prospectively collected lactation history, and no intervening pregnancy in Project Viva, a cohort study of mothers and children.

RESULTS A total of 88% of mothers had initiated breastfeeding, 26% had breastfed ≥12 months, and 42% had exclusively breastfed for ≥3 months. In multivariate analyses, we found that duration of total breastfeeding was directly related to PYY and ghrelin, and exclusive breastfeeding duration was directly related to ghrelin (predicted mean for never exclusively breastfeeding: 790.6 pg/mL vs. ≥6 months of exclusive breastfeeding: 1,008.1 pg/mL; P < 0.01) at 3 years postpartum, adjusting for pregravid BMI, gestational weight gain, family history of diabetes, parity, smoking status, and age. We found a nonlinear pattern of association between exclusive breastfeeding duration and adiponectin in multivariate-adjusted models.

CONCLUSIONS In this prospective cohort study, we found a direct relationship between the duration of lactation and both ghrelin and PYY at 3 years postpartum.

  • Received May 4, 2010.
  • Accepted January 26, 2011.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 60 no. 4 1277-1285
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