Breastfeeding has been shown to have a significant protective effect for obesity, yet only 43% of infants are breastfed by 6 months of age. Primary care clinics have recently adopted new growth charts that make it clear that breastfed infants are significantly leaner than formula fed infants at the end of the first year.
Breastfeeding not only improves the health of the mother and baby, but it also saves money by avoiding expensive illnesses, and reducing family absenteeism from work.
In a recent study in Pediatrics, Bartick and Reinhold reported that if 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths. (1)
A number of policy changes have been studied which increase breastfeeding rates including the adoption of “Baby-Friendly” hospital policies that encourage breastfeeding (2), workplace policies including the establishment of lactation rooms, and enhanced accessed to breastfeeding support and supplies. In “The Business Case for Breastfeeding,” Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) reports that lactation support programs can lower health insurance claims, reduce employee turnover and absenteeism rates and raise employee morale within the company. (2) (Sample Breastfeeding Policy.pdf)
- Bartick, Mellissa and Arnold Reinhold. The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Costa Analysis. Pediatrics 2010;125(5): e1048-1056.
- Renfrew MJ, Kyson L, McCormick F et al. Child: Care, health and development 2009;36(2): 165-178.
- HRSA. The Business Case for Breastfeeding. Steps for Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite.