Connors-BRI Symposium

Incorporating Sex as Biologic Variable to Advance Health

May 24, 2021 | 3-5PM

Virtual Event

Rachel Blair, MD

Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Medicine/Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension


Introduction: Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are at increased risk of future cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (MetS). The identification of factors that reduce MetS is important to improve cardiovascular outcomes. We examined the association of breastfeeding with MetS in women with recent GDM in the very early postpartum period.

Methods: We performed a secondary analysis of the Balance After Baby Intervention (BABI) study which enrolled women with recent GDM. Data collected during an early (~8 weeks) postpartum visit were used in this analysis. At this visit, weight, height, waist circumference (WC), blood pressure (BP), fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and lipids were obtained. MetS was classified per NCEP-ATP III criteria. We defined breastfeeding as currently breastfeeding or not currently breastfeeding for the main analysis.

Results: 178 women were included in this analysis. Thirty-four % were Hispanic. Of non-Hispanics, 31.5% were White, 18.5% Asian and 12.9% Black/African American. The prevalence of MetS was 42.9% in women not breastfeeding versus 17.1% in women breastfeeding (P < 0.001; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.16 [95% CI 0.06-0.41]). Breastfeeding women had significantly lower odds of FPG ≥100 mg/dL (aOR 0.36 [95% CI 0.14-0.95], p=0.039), HDL <50 mg/dL (aOR 0.19 [95% CI 0.08-0.46], p<0.001), and triglycerides (TG) ≥150 mg/dL (aOR 0.26 [95% CI 0.10-0.66], p=0.005). When evaluated as continuous variables, WC, FPG, and TG were significantly lower and HDL significantly higher in women breastfeeding in the very early postpartum period (vs not breastfeeding).

Conclusions: In women with recent GDM, there was lower prevalence of MetS in women breastfeeding compared to those not breastfeeding in the very early postpartum period. This study extends the findings of an association of breastfeeding with MetS previously reported at timepoints more remote from pregnancy to the very early postpartum period and to a racially and ethnically diverse population.


3PM – Welcome Remarks
3:05PM – Keynote Address
3:45PM – Featured Short Talks
4:20PM – Lightning Talks
4:50PM – Closing Remarks

Keynote Speaker

Janine Austin Clayton, MD

Janine Austin Clayton, M.D., Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health and Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the architect of the NIH policy requiring scientists to consider sex as a biological variable across the research spectrum. This policy is part of NIH’s initiative to enhance reproducibility through rigor and transparency. As co-chair of the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Clayton also leads NIH’s efforts to advance women in science careers.

Prior to joining the ORWH, Dr. Clayton was the Deputy Clinical Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) for seven years. A board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Clayton’s research interests include autoimmune ocular diseases and the role of sex and gender in health and disease. She is the author of more than 120 scientific publications, journal articles, and book chapters.
Dr. Clayton, a native Washingtonian, received her undergraduate degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University and her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine. She completed a residency in ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia. Dr. Clayton completed fellowship training in cornea and external disease at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital and in uveitis and ocular immunology at NEI.

Dr. Clayton has received numerous awards, including the Senior Achievement Award from the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2008 and the European Uveitis Patient Interest Association Clinical Uveitis Research Award in 2010. She was selected as a 2010 Silver Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. In 2015, she was awarded the American Medical Women’s Association Lila A. Wallis Women’s Health Award and the Wenger Award for Excellence in Public Service. Dr. Clayton was granted the Bernadine Healy Award for Visionary Leadership in Women’s Health in 2016. She was also selected as an honoree for the Woman’s Day Red Dress Awards and the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Awards for Outstanding Government Service in 2017.