Economic benefits of breastfeeding: $ billions in reduced workplace, household and healthcare costs!

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 11/14/2004 - 21:01.

REI Director Ed Morrison describes Economic Development as beginning with the unborn child, which recognizes important issues like reducing unplanned pregnancies, delivering world-class prenatal care, providing excellent early child-care and education, insuring great nutrician for children and protecting them from health hazards like lead exposure, and becoming outspoken to educate our community on the importance of breast-feeding, as mentioned today on Brewed Fresh Daily in a posting from Sandy Kristin Piderit, explained in detail on her LiveJournal blog - contact Sandy for more info

Why do you advocate feeding human babies human milk?

1.
Infants who are not breastfed do not develop immune systems that are as
strong as those developed by breastfed babies, because breastmilk
contains antibodies produced by the mother in response to the specific
germs, bacteria and viruses with which mother and infant come in
contact.
2. Infants who are not breastfed have a higher risk of
developing ear infections, meningitis, diabetes, obesity, and other
illnesses.
3. Because infants who are not breastfed are sick more often, their parents are more often absent from work.
4.
Infants who use artificial nipples and pacifiers are more likely to
experience dental malocclusions, which can lead to difficulties
breathing, especially in sleep.
5. Infants who are not breastfed are
more likely to die within their first year, due to SIDS, communicable
diseases, and malnutrition.

What cost savings might result from taking on breastfeeding as a public health issue?

The Breastfeeding Task Force of Los Angeles summarizes the research this way:
-
If exclusive breastfeeding was practiced for the first 12 weeks of an
infant’s life, our country could save $2.16 billion annually on
providing health care, because breastfeeding reduces the frequency of
illness and disease.
- Another $3.02 billion annually would be
saved from household expenses because of the reduced costs of formula
purchases, family planning benefits and decreased health care
expenditures.

This webpage does a nice job of summarizing the economic and health benefits for mothers, employees, and employers when mothers who return to work are supported in their desire to continue breastfeeding their babies.

What are the current breastfeeding rates in Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County, and in Ohio?

According
to the Centers for Disease Control website, in 2003 the rate of
breastfeeding initiation in Cuyahoga County was 55 percent (+/- 5.7)
which means that more than 40 percent of babies born in that county
never received any of the health benefits of breastmilk. Of the babies
who reached 3 months of age, only 30 percent (+/- 5) were still
exclusively breastfed. Of the babies who reached 6 months of age, 24.7
percent (+/- 4.5) were still receiving some breastmilk, although only
9.5 percent (+/- 3.2) were exclusively breastfed. Only 10.7 percent
(+/- 3.2) of babies who reach 12 months of age were still receiving any
breastmilk.

While the CDC does not provide data on their webpage
about each county in northeast Ohio, their statewide figures indicate
that Cuyahoga County is well below the statewide average rates of
breastfeeding initiation and continuation. Even Franklin County (which
includes the state capitol of Columbus) shows significantly higher
breastfeeding rates, with 66.3 percent of babies receiving some
breastmilk after birth, 33 percent still receiving some breastmilk at 6
months (with 13.2 percent receiving exclusively breastmilk up to that
age), and 19.1 percent receiving some breastmilk at 12 months.

A
summary of broader trends may also be useful. In 2002, the rate of
breastfeeding initiation while in the hospital was 63.7 percent in Ohio
(according to the Ross Labs’ Mothers’ Survey), and by 6 months of age,
only 26.7 percent of Ohio infants were still receiving some breastmilk.
These Ohio statistics trail the national rates, which rose to 70.1
percent for newborns and 33.2 percent for 6-month-olds in 2002.
Furthermore, according to the Parenting Magazine table which has been
cited on the Kellymom website, the United States lags behind many
countries with higher initiation rates, like Sweden (98%), Norway
(98%), Poland (93%), and Canada (80%).

Read the entire posting from Sandy Kristin Piderit, on her LiveJournal blog - contact Sandy there for more info