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Breastfeeding saves a lot of money, study says

April 4, 2010 |  9:01 pm

If all U.S. women followed medical recommendations to breastfeed their infants exclusively for six months, the nation could save $13 billion a year in medical costs and prevent 911 deaths, according to an analysis published in the new issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Bottle The study authors compared the costs of 10 childhood diseases at current breastfeeding rates and the projected costs of those diseases if 90% of U.S. women complied with the recommendations. The costs included medical care and as well as indirect costs, such as missed time from work. The majority of the deaths linked to failure to breastfeed involve Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the authors said, as well as complications among premature babies.

About three-quarters of U.S. women breastfeed, but only 32% are still nursing exclusively after three months. Just 12% of infants are exclusively breastfed for six months.

Several medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently urged Congress to appropriate $15 million per year to support breastfeeding in the United States. More support is needed in hospitals and at work places to encourage breastfeeding, the authors state.

"People shouldn't blame mothers because they are often not supported well, even from the moment their babies are born," said Dr. Melissa Bartick, the lead author of the study and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, in a news release.

-- Shari Roan

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Comments (12)

I'm waiting for the pro-life types to embrace support of women breastfeeding because of 100's of babies it would save and the billions of dollars in healthcare costs it would save. I'm still waiting.......

I just turned 60. My sons were born in the mid 70s, when, despite having gone through many cultural shifts, the "birth industry" in the US, as well as general public opinion, was not at all supportive of new mothers breast feeding their infants. Nor was it easy to find a hospital and obstetrician who was willing to work with couples wanting to practice the "Lamaze" method (which was generally drug free, though everyone was willing to use medication and other intervention if medically necessary).

I managed to breast feed my two children for about 6 months, though I introduced a bottle earlier than I'd have liked, if only because I needed to be able to leave the house. Back then, reactions to nursing mothers (especially ones with ample breasts) was one of shock and horror, which discouraged me after a few attempts. My pediatrician, who was otherwise a great doctor, was not particularly supportive and insisted I feed my child mashed bananas at three months.

It is shameful that a higher percentage of young mothers are not even introduced to the many benefits of breast feeding. They have long been known, yet in 35 years, there has been only a modest increase in the percentage of mothers who breast feed their infants.

Perhaps, like the "military-industrial complex," the corporations who so prolifically advertise (and profit) from manufactured substitutes for mother's breast milk make it so much easier for doctors, nurses, hospitals and pediatricians by "managing" an inherently natural relationship between mother and infant.

Wake up, will you?

Why in the world is there a photo of a bottle on this story?

Why is there a photo of a baby bottle on this post? It's a serious question -- maybe women would feel more supported in their quest to breastfeed if the media weren't so afraid of photos of women breastfeeding. Nursing in public is a big barrier for many women.

Why is there a picture of a bottle on this article? Is it an April fool joke?

I'm just going to leave it at the definition below to explain why a photo of a bottle in an article about breastfeeding is stupid.

However I would like to point out that bottles themselves cause health problems above and beyond what you put in them -whether that be mom's milk, pasteurized banked human milk, shared human milk, formula, cow's milk, goat's milk, water, or juice.

Even just switching from bottles to feeding cups/paladais, etc could reduce the health impact of formula feeding. So not only is it ironic to have a photo of a bottle in an article about breast milk vs infant formula/artificial breast milk -bottles have nothing to do with EITHER. Many breastfeeding women use bottles part time, and a small number of exclusively formula feeding mothers never use a bottle at all.

• noun (pl. ironies) 1 the expression of meaning through the use of language which normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous effect. 2 a state of affairs that appears perversely contrary to what one expects.

— ORIGIN Greek eironeia ‘simulated ignorance’.

Articles like this really pi$$ me off.

When my daughter was born, she simply did not want to breast feed. We saw specialists and more specialists and then some more specialists. Just didn't work.
She was bottle fed instead.

Guess that makes us the world's worst parents huh?

Give me a break.

This study underscores the overarching importance of breastfeeding on society and the importance of supporting as many moms and babies in breastfeeding as we possibly can. I am excited about the coverage this study is getting and I hope it helps to raise awareness about the many different benefits of breastfeeding. It is due to studies like this one and doctors like Ruth Lawrence, MD that do the public a service to illuminate and underscore the huge importance of breastfeeding. As important studies such as this one continue to be published, I hope that we, as a society, can continue to move beyond simply telling mothers the many benefits of breastfeeding and begin to expand the support systems that allow a mother to do so. With the passage of the health care reform bill and especially the inclusion of the workplace breast pumping accommodations mandate, I am optimistic that we are moving in that direction. Hopefully, with continued awareness and support, we will begin to see a significant increase in number of babies that are exclusively breastfed for six months.

Gina Ciagne, CLC
Director, Breastfeeding and Consumer Relations
Lansinoh Laboratories, Inc.

If the media started reporting that, "breastfeeding will make ALL children tall, thin and gorgeous for life" there wouldn't be a woman who wouldn't do it. Its shameful that with all the health benefits that more women won't do it. I nursed both my children for the first year and yes it was a huge sacrifice. We make lots of sacrifices for our children and breastfeeding should be the first.

It's kind of difficult to exclusively breast feed for 6 months if FMLA only guarantees 3 months of employment and you need to get back to work. Even more difficult if your work doesn't support pumping breaks.

PS I just noticed my typo. I'm nursing the baby while typing on my iPod, so please excuse my spelling!

If you put the keywords breast milk contaminated into any search engine's search box you will see that breast milk is highly contaminated with pollutants like fire retardants and dioxins as well as numerous other toxic and cancer causing chemicals. The research has been done by many reliable sources and clearly shows that it is becoming a health issue that needs to be addressed.Perhaps the researchers who did the study that breast feeding saves money did not have time to research the negative aspects which should have been presented to the women who are considering the pros and cons of breast feeding.Are they going to provide testing of the breast milk of each individual woman to assure her that she can safely breast feed? If a woman chooses to breast feed she should at least have all the facts and options backed by careful investigation of all aspects that relate to her decison to raise a healthy child.


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