Bread-feed has always been considered a pre-requisite to ensure a baby's overall health and growth, but new research now suggests that mothers who feed their babies stand lesser chance of contacting type-2 diabetes later in life.

The study conducted across 2,200 women aged between 40 and 78, inferred that mothers who did not breast-feed their children were at a greater risk of type-2 diabetes, which occurs when the body's cells start losing sensitivity to insulin.

The researchers at the University of Pittsburg reported finding more than 27 percent of mothers who had not breast-fed their babies had developed type-2 diabetes, which incidentally is also associated with obesity.

The study, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Medicine, says the research team found that the differences between the groups held up even after they were adjusted against factors like age, race, body-mass index and levels of physical activity among the volunteers.

Dr. Eleanor Bimla Scwarz, an assistant professor of medicine, epidemiology and obstetrics at the University of Pittsburgh, said diet and exercise were widely known to impact the risk of type 2 diabetes. "However, few people realize that breast-feeding also reduces mothers' risk of developing the disease later in life by decreasing maternal belly fat," says Dr. Schwarz in a press statement put out by the university.

"Our study provides another good reason to encourage women to breast-feed their infants, at least for the infant's first month of life," Schwarz said. "Clinicians need to consider women's pregnancy and lactation history when advising women about their risk for developing type 2 diabetes," she says in the statement.

The study has been funded by the United States National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases and the National Institute of Child Health and Development.