An estimated 38 million and 50 million individuals will have cataract in the U.S. alone by 2030 and 2050, respectively. Breastfeeding is known to improve a number of health outcomes in both breastfed children and breastfeeding mothers. However, little is known about the relationship between breastfeeding and cataract, the leading cause of blindness worldwide, in breastfeeding mothers. This study was conducted to investigate the relationship between breastfeeding and maternal cataract extraction history in a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population.
A 10-year multistage, probability-sampling survey data was used to identify parous women aged ≥50 years who provided breastfeeding history and cataract extraction history (n = 4897). Breastfeeding history was considered positive if a participant reported breastfeeding at least one child for ≥1 month. The main outcome was cataract extraction history. Estimates are presented in odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI).
Approximately half of the studied women breastfed at least one child ≥1 month, and about 18% reported cataract extraction history. Participants with a positive breastfeeding history were less likely to have a positive cataract extraction history in both age-adjusted (OR = 0.814, 95%CI = 0.670-0.989) and multivariable logistic regression (OR = 0.794, 95%CI = 0.639-0.988). Higher number of breastfed children was also associated with a lower risk of cataract extraction history (OR = 0.934, 95%CI = 0.883-0.988).
The findings suggest that breastfeeding may be associated with a decrease in the likelihood of age-related cataract extraction in parous women from the U.S. population.