It Saves Lives, Billions of Dollars and 99 Other Reasons

Last week, a study published online in the journal Pediatrics was released stating that if more new mothers breastfed their babies for at least six months, it would save 911 babies’ lives and over 13 billion dollars in excess medical costs (both direct and indirect costs like missed time from work).  This is a significant study, pointing to lack of education, lack of support and hospital interference as reasons for the United States’ failing to reach goals set for breast feeding by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, ACOG, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

According to and study author, Dr. Melissa Bartick,

The average U.S. hospital does a poor job of providing evidence-based care around infant feeding, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other factors that make it difficult for mothers to follow breast-feeding recommendations include limited work, social and cultural support, as well as aggressive marketing of infant formula.

So how do Colorado hospitals stack up?  You can view the CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card to see how we compare to the rest of the county for 2009. reported that,

Bartick says many hospitals delay immediate urgent skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby, which can make things harder for the newborn to act on its natural instincts to suckle.

Moms also need to be better educated about the importance of breastfeeding and they need adequate support after they leave the hospital in case they run into problems because the newborn isn’t properly latching on and therefore not getting enough food.

Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes, was not surprised by the findings of the report. Fleischman, who did not work on this study, says if a new mom is struggling with breastfeeding, she may end up in a situation where “grandmother suggests to stop the silliness and give formula instead.”

He believes the mothers and grandmothers of new moms also need to be educated about the benefits of breastfeeding because for their generations, feeding their babies formula was the norm.”

Many new mothers worry about their breastmilk supply, but this illustration from Ameda shows just how big the newborn’s stomach is.

And addressing the financial costs of not breastfeeding, CNN reported study findings as saying,

Most of the excess costs [$10.56 million] are due to premature deaths.  Nearly all, 95 percent of these deaths, are attributed to three causes: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); necrotizing enterocolitis, seen primarily in preterm babies and in which the lining of the intestinal wall dies; and lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia.

Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of all of these and seven other illnesses studied by the study authors.

As if the lives of nearly 1,000 babies and billions of dollars weren’t enough motivation to breastfeed, check out the 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child by Promotion of Mother’s Milk, Inc. (ProMoM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and public acceptance of breastfeeding.

In response to her study findings, Melissa Bartick wrote the following in her article in the Huffington Post,

Yes, I’m a researcher and a physician, but I’m also a mother. Since I live in the United States, you can probably guess what my birth experience was like. Maybe you’ve heard me on the news saying that moms shouldn’t feel guilty. I’ve been there. So take that guilt and turn it inside out, and do something positive so that other moms don’t have to go through what you did. We all deserve better.


3 responses to “It Saves Lives, Billions of Dollars and 99 Other Reasons

  1. Pingback: Baby Formula Advice

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