Supporting Breastfeeding is a Public Health Imperative
Breastfeeding is critical for infant and maternal health, and is proven to reduce healthcare spending for families and taxpayers. Mothers and babies need support from their communities and their government.
Health benefits of breastfeeding:
In the U.S., 911 deaths could be prevented each year if most mothers were able to breastfeed to 6 months. Most of these would be infants’ lives.
…breastfeeding reduces the risk of:
|Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)||60-73%|
|Type 1 diabetes||19-27%|
|Type 2 diabetes||39%|
|Respiratory infection-related hospitalizations||72%|
|Celiac disease (gluten allergy)||52%|
…breastfeeding improves IQ and mental health outcomes.
For premature babies…
…breastfeeding reduces the risk for sepsis, blindness, and being readmitted to the hospital in their first year. The risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an excruciatingly painful bowel disease that is the number two cause of death for preemies, is reduced by 77% with exclusive breastfeeding.
…breastfeeding reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, and improves sleep and weight loss.
Economic benefits of breastfeeding:
For the United States…
…The U.S. could save $13 billion annually in pediatric costs if most mothers were supported to breastfeed to 6 months. This only takes into account a few major illnesses.
…The U.S. could save $18.26 billion annually in maternal deaths, direct, and indirect medical costs.
That’s more than $31.2 billion dollars saved, every year.
…in just 6 months, each breastfed baby on Medicaid saves Texas $960.
…breastfeeding can save between $1,500–$1,800 on artificial baby milk, or even up to $3,200 for specialty baby formula.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continuing with complementary foods to at least 12 months and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years.
|% ever bf||% any bf at 6 months||% any bf at 12 months||% exclusive bf at 3 months||% exclusive bf at 6 months|
|Goal: Healthy People 2020||81.9||60.6||34.1||46.2||25.5|
Overall, 60% of mothers stated that they wanted to breastfeed longer than they did. Among mothers who breastfed less than 3 months, 77% did not reach their goals.
It is good policy to support breastfeeding.
Research Illustrating the Need to
Support Breastfeeding in Texas
911 lives and $13 billion in pediatric costs could be saved annually in the U.S. if 90% of mothers could meet recommendations to breastfeed for 6 months.
Bartick M, Reinhold A: The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: a pediatric cost analysis. Pediatrics, 2010; 125(5):e1048-56.
In maternal deaths, direct, and indirect medical costs, the U.S. could save $18.26 billion annually.
Bartick M, Stuebe A, et al. Cost Analysis of Maternal Disease Associated with Suboptimal Breastfeeding. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2013; 122(1):111-9.
Breastfeeding for even a short amount of time had a 60% reduction in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and up to a 73% reduction with exclusively breastfeeding for 4 months or more.
Hauck FR, Thompson JMD, Tanabe KO, et al. Breastfeeding and Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta Analysis. Pediatrics, 2011; 128(1):103-10.
In a retrospective study of 502,948 children, formula-fed infants had a higher risk than did breastfed infants at 6 months of hospitalization for illnesses such as respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
Ajetunmobi OM, Whyte B, et al. Breastfeeding is Associated with Reduced Childhood Hospitalization: Evidence from a Scottish Birth Cohort (1997-2009). The Journal of Pediatrics, 2015; epub ahead of print.
Longer breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of postneonatal death.
Chen A, Rogan W: Breastfeeding and the risk of postneonatal death in the United States. Pediatrics, 2004; 113:e435-e439.
In a study of 7,798 children, being breastfed for 13-25 weeks resulted in a 38% reduction in the risk of obesity at 9 years of age, and being breastfed for 26 weeks or more was associated with a 51% reduction in risk at 9 years.
McCrory C, Layte R: Breastfeeding and risk of overweight and obesity at 9 years of age. Social Science Medicine, 2012; 75(2):323-30.
Rate of abuse and/or neglect was significantly increased for mothers who did not breastfeed as opposed to those who did.
American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy Statement: Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics, 2012; 129(3):e827-e841.
Children who received formula in the first two months of life were 2 to 3 times more likely to have asthma by 4 years of age compared to exclusively breastfed children.
Kull, et al. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of asthma during the first 4 years of life. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2004; 114:755-760.
Duration of breastfeeding is significantly associated with decreased risk of helicobacter pylori infection. This infection is an important risk factor for gastric carcinoma.
Pearce, et al. Does increased duration of exclusive breastfeeding protect against helicobacter pylori infection? The Newcastle thousand families cohort study at age 49-51 years. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 2005; 41:617-620.
Numerous studies link breastmilk and breastfeeding with improved cognitive function and neurodevelopment in infants.
Lancet 1992; 339:261-262
Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 1998; 40:163-167
Acta Paediatrica 2002; 91(3): 267-274.
A shorter duration of breastfeeding may be a predictor of adverse mental health outcomes throughout the developmental trajectory of childhood and early adolescence.
Oddy W, Kendall G, Li J, et al. The Long-Term Effects of Breastfeeding on Child and Adolescent Mental Health: A Pregnancy Cohort Study Followed for 14 Years. Journal of Pediatrics, 2010; 156(4):568-74.
Women who were breastfed as children and women who breastfeed their own children are at reduced statistical risk of developing breast cancer.
Epidemiology 1994; 5:324-331
American Journal of Epidemiology 2000; 152(12):1129-1135
Lancet 2002; 360(9328):187-95
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2004
Longer duration of breastfeeding protects against development of type 2 diabetes in breastfeeding women.
Stuebe, et al. Duration of lactation and incidence of type 2 diabetes. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2005; 294:2601-2610.