Mother’s milk may provide greater protection in a baby’s later life than taking statins, researchers have discovered.
Researchers found that babies who were breastfed for at least three months had lower levels of a protein linked to heart disease as adults.
It could mean that breastfeeding continues to benefit health into old age and may reduce the risk of a heart attack.
It is known that breastfeeding lowers the risk of allergies, ear infections and admission to hospital in babies and it has been linked to better health overall into adulthood, with lower rates of obesity in people who were breastfed as babies.
Lead author Thomas McDade, professor of anthropology at Northwestern University, said:
"This is a major public health issue. If we can raise breastfeeding rates it will pay dividends in healthcare savings in the future."
Julie Ward, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said:
“This study goes further by suggesting that the longer you breastfeed your baby the healthier your child will be in later life.
"This supports current NHS guidelines, which advocate breastfeeding for the first six months before combining breast milk with more solid foods.
“However, parents of smaller babies and mothers unable to breastfeed should not worry about things they can’t control. By teaching children about healthy eating and making physical activity fun from a young age you can inspire healthy habits to protect their hearts as they grow up.”