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Breastfeeding saves lives of babies and mothers

Harold Mandel's picture
A baby breastfeeding

Breastfeeding as it is recommended may protect babies and their mothers from premature death and serious illnesses.


There has been growing evidence that breastfeeding is good for the health of babies. It seems that breastfeeding is also good for the health of mothers.

Breastfeeding saves the lives of mothers too

The University of North Carolina Health Care System reports that breastfeeding saves the lives of mothers too.
This study offers a comprehensive picture of the health and economic benefits which are associated with breastfeeding.

When breastfeeding is done as it is recommended it could protect babies and their mothers from serious illnesses and premature death. It is recommended that mothers breastfeed for a total of one year and exclusively for six months. Overall following these guidelines could save the United States greater than $4.3 billion in health care and associated costs.

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Paid family leave would have a dramatic impact on the health of women and children

Dr. Alison Stuebe, who is associated with the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, says this study helps to highlight the vital significance of policies which make it possible for women to breastfeed their babies. At this time about 22 percent of mothers who are employed go back to work within 10 days of the birth of their child. With paid leave mothers and babies can stay together which is necessary for breastfeeding. The enactment of paid family leave would have a dramatic impact on the health of women and children throughout their lifetime.

Lead author Dr. Melissa Bartick says breastfeeding is a great deal more beneficial in helping to prevent disease and lowering costs than it had been previously estimated. These findings should encourage all hospitals to create programs which are aimed at assisting new mothers to learn to breastfeed their babies.

Breastfeeding is both a child and women's health issue

Lack of adequate breastfeeding was found to be associated with greater than 3,340 premature deaths in the United States every year. This costs the country about $3 billion in medical expenses. Most of the excess death and medical costs were observed to be maternal. Clearly breastfeeding is not just a child health issue, it is also a women’s health issue. Cancer, heart disease and diabetes can be prevented with breast feeding.

This study has been published in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition. At the present time rates of breastfeeding in the United States are suboptimal in comparison with medical recommendations that mothers and infants breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of life, along with a continuation of breastfeeding for at least 1 year. There is a considerable health impact on the health of the child and mother from suboptimal breastfeeding. It's a good idea to invest in public health programs and social policies which encourage women to breastfeed their babies.