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Not Breastfeeding Has High Costs for Mothers

Choosing formula over breastmilk has high costs for babies. Dr. Melissa Bartick made the case in her cost analysis of the effect of “suboptimal breastfeeding” on children’s health in 2010 (Pediatrics). That report drew attention for its estimates that the U.S. would save $13 billion and prevent an excess 911 deaths per year if 90% of families complied with recommendations to exclusively breastfeed for babies’ first six months.

Now, Dr. Bartick and colleagues make the case for mother’s health. In a new study, published in the June 2013 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, “suboptimal breastfeeding”—that is, breastfeeding for less than a year—results in 4,981 excess cases of breast cancer, 53,847 cases of hypertension, and 13,946 cases of myocardial infarction per year. This means $17.4 billion in costs to society from premature deaths, $733.7 million in direct costs, and $126.1 million indirect morbidity costs annually. The numbers are startling.  Don’t miss her new article, “Cost Analysis of Maternal Disease Associated with Suboptimal Breastfeeding,” on the cost of suboptimal breastfeeding on women’s health.

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