From: pautrey on

feminist wire | daily newsbriefs
April 6, 2010

Study Reveals Breastfeeding Can Save Lives and Billions in Health Care

A study published in the journal Pediatrics yesterday reveals
breastfeeding can prevent more than 900 infant deaths each year and
save an additional $13 billion in health care costs. According to US
News & World Report, 95 percent of infant deaths cited in the study
are a result of Sudden Infant Death (SIDS), respiratory infections
such as pneumonia, and necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that
affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants. Risk for these
ailments is nearly eliminated if mothers breastfeed their infants
until at least six months after birth.

The study demonstrated that although 75 percent of US mothers breast-
feed at first, only 32 percent continue to do so after three months,
and only 12 percent are breast-feeding after six months. However,
according to the Office of Women's Health in the US Department of
Health and Human Services, human breast milk contains vitamins and
antibodies essential to an infant's health. This milk is easily
digested by the infant's developing stomach, unlike formula, which
contains cow's milk. Mothers may save between $1,160 and $3,915 every
year, depending on the formula brand, if they breast-feed instead.

The US News & World Report reported that study author Dr. Melissa
Bartick, also of the Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical
School, said in a news release, "People shouldn't blame mothers
because they are often not supported well, even from the moment their
babies are born." Bartick explained other factors preventing mothers
from breast-feeding, which include limited social, cultural and
workplace support, along with the aggressive marketing of baby

According to the Office of Women's Health, breastfeeding can benefit
both mothers' and infants' health. Infants have a lower risk of
contracting ear infections, stomach viruses, respiratory infections,
atopic dermatitis, obesity, type 1 and type 2 Diabetes, childhood
leukemia, SIDS and other health problems. Mother benefit through a
lower risk of type 2 Diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and
Postpartum Depression (PPD).

Media Resources: US News & World Report 4/5/10; Office of Women's
Health 2/27/09