More Breastfeeding Could Save $13 Billion
April 15, 2010
It's common knowledge that breastfeeding is better for your baby compared with formula, and this new study estimated a figure on dollars saved if 90% of new moms breastfed exclusively for 6 months: $13 Billion. The results are not too surprising. One criticism that was mentioned was the fact that there are costs involved in breastfeeding, including unpaid time off work and lost productivity. This is an important issue that our society has to grapple with: What's more important—job productivity and wages that pay for food, or having a healthier baby?
What they found was that 3/4 start out breastfeeding initially, but at 3 months, less than 1/3 are breastfeeding. The excess annual cost associated with poor levels of breastfeeding compared to the ideal 90% compliance rate was: $9.1 Billion (991 estimated preventible deaths due to SIDS, necrotizing enterocolitis, and lower respiratory tract infections). The remaining amounts were due to otitis media, atopic dermatitis and childhood obesity.
What I discovered after reading the full article was interesting—to define breastfeeding, they asked survey respondents if they have “ever breastfed or fed breast milk.” Exclusivity was defined as the following: "…not having fed anything other than breast milk, including water, in- fant food, juice, formula, cow’s milk, or sugar water." What's clear is that either natural feeding from the mother's breast, or pumped milk from the mother is defined as breast feeding.
There are many dentists and lactation experts that would argue that there's a big difference between the two. Dr. Brian Palmer has argued convincingly that feeding from the mother's breast protects against developing obstructive sleep apnea. In other words, bottle-feeding can aggravate malocclusion and dental crowding. If you notice the various related illnesses in the study, they are all potential complications of untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Something to think about.
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