We know breastfeeding is good for baby AND mama, but it is also good for the price of health care. A new study from Harvard Medical School estimates that if mothers’ breastfeed for the recommended one year of their baby’s life, $860 million could be saved in health care costs.
The study considered the number of babies women have, the length of time they breastfed and whether they developed five specific diseases – heart attack, breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and hypertension. The statistical results approximated that breastfeeding for one year or more could reduce breast cancer cases by 5,000, hypertension by 54,000 and heart attacks by 14,000 per year.
This study can only estimate numbers in theory because it is impossible to definitively determine whether breastfeeding makes a woman less prone to diseases, or rather women who breastfeed lead healthier lifestyles. Even with these scientific approximations, the numbers are astounding.
Beyond making personal health and lifestyle choices about breastfeeding, this study illuminates the economic and societal impact that breastfeeding has on our nation. Breastfeeding will always be a personal choice, but hopefully studies of this nature will encourage employers and the general public to support breastfeeding with policies, appreciation and an open mind.