By Denise Reynolds RD for EmaxHealth.com
A new cost analysis published in the journal Pediatrics has found that if 90% of women in the United States would breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, billions of dollars could be saved in healthcare costs each year.
A recent Australian study from the University of Western Sydney’s School of Medicine found that women who do not breastfeed at all after childbirth had a 50% increased risk of diabetes.
Researchers from the Harvard Medical School analyzed the prevalence of 10 common childhood illnesses using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also evaluated the costs of treating those diseases and the level of disease protection that other studies have linked to the practice of breastfeeding. The findings all suggest that hundreds of deaths and many more costly illnesses each year would be prevented, including stomach viruses, ear infections, asthma, juvenile diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and possibly childhood leukemia.
If 90% of all American mothers chose to breastfeed exclusively in the first six months, the study estimates that $13 billion per year can be saved. The costs include both direct and indirect costs of medical care for those afflicted and costs of missed time away from work for the mother. The estimation also includes a calculation that estimates lost potential lifetime wages of $10.56 million per death of each Sudden Infant Death Syndrome child.