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J Hum Lact. 1997 Jun;13(2):93-7.

The cost of not breastfeeding: a commentary.

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1
School of Nursing, Wichita State University, Kansas, USA.

Abstract

Breastfeeding, a valuable natural resource, promotes health, helps prevent infant and childhood disease, and saves health care costs. Additional annual national health care costs, incurred for treatment of four medical conditions in infant who were not breastfed were estimated. Infant diarrhea in nonbreastfed infants costs $291.3 million; respiratory syncytial virus, $225 million; insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, from $9.6 to $124.8 million; and otitis media, $660 million. Thus, these four medical diagnoses alone create just over $1 billion of extra health care costs each year. Breastfeeding may also enhance intellectual development of children according to at least one medical research study. The potential societal benefits of more intelligent children is incalculable even though it cannot be directly measured in terms of dollars. Finally, it was calculated that an additional $2,665,715 in federal funds is needed yearly in order for WIC to provide infant formula to nonbreastfeeding mothers. For the average family, the cost of purchasing formula is twice the cost of supplemental food for the breastfeeding mother. Breastfeeding education and support should be an integral part of health care, especially under managed care which rewards the prevention of health problems and reduced use of health services.

PMID:
9233193
DOI:
10.1177/089033449701300202
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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