Benefits of Breastfeeding
Best for Baby. Best for Mom. Best for Everyone.
Breast milk is the best gift that a mother can offer her child. Its benefits are well documented for mom, baby, the family, employers and society as a whole. A report prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides significant evidence of a tremendous number of benefits. 1
Breastfeeding is Good for Society
- Reduced Infant Mortality Rates
- Studies reveal that communities with higher breastfeeding rates exhibit a lower morbidity and mortality rate for infants because of the protective effects of breast milk. 2
- Healthier Community and Workforce
- Breastfeeding leads to healthier babies and by reducing anxiety concerning a sick child, allows parents to be more productive at work and in the community. 2
- Reduced National Healthcare Costs
- Breastfeeding reduces medical expenses and insurance claims for children because breastfed children are less ill. 2
- Stronger Environment
- Breastfeeding benefits the environment by reducing pollution associated with processing, packaging, shipping, and disposal of formula. 3
Breastfeeding is Good for Employers
- Lower Turnover Rates
- Breastfeeding-friendly workplaces encourage experienced employees to return to work and continue breastfeeding. Employee retention eliminates the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training replacement staff. 4
- Lower Insurance Claims
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of infant sickness, childhood illness, and a number of women's diseases. Reduced healthcare costs translate into lower medical insurance claims for businesses. 5 & 6
- Increased Employee Productivity
Breastfeeding-friendly workplaces lead to improved morale and better satisfaction with jobs. 7
Breastfeeding is Good for Father and Family
- Healthier Baby and Mother
- Breastfeeding reduces anxiety caused by having a child or parent who is sick. 8
- Economic Benefits
- Breastfeeding helps maximize the family budget by reducing the amount of money spent annually on formula.8 Estimates show families save $3,000-$4,000 a year.4
- Reduced Healthcare Costs
- Breastfeeding reduces the number of work days lost due to a child's illness and medical costs associated with a sick child. 8
Breastfeeding is Good for Mom
- Breastfeeding saves time and money: no purchasing or preparation of formula and bottles is needed. 9
- Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and bonding with their infants, and breastfeeding feels good for the mom, if done properly. 9
- Cancer Risk Reduction
- Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. 1 & 8
- Weight Loss
- Breastfeeding uses extra calories, making it easier to lose those pregnancy pounds. Breastfeeding also helps the uterus get back to its original size and lessens any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth. 8
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Breastfeeding is Good for Baby
- Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. It is the source of nourishment recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 1 &10
- Cognitive Development
- Results from some studies suggest that breastfeeding enhances cognitive development. 9&11
- Emotional Development
- Breastfeeding helps mothers bond with their babies. Physical contact is important to newborns and helps the baby feel more secure, warm and comforted. 9&11
- Decreased Risk for Diseases
- Many studies show that breastfed infants have:
- Lower rates of chronic childhood diseases and conditions such as diabetes, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, allergies, and asthma
- Lower rates of acute childhood diseases such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis, obesity, and childhood leukemia 1 & 9-11
- Lower rates of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) 1 & 9-11
- Better responses to immunizations 9-11
- Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, Chew P, Magula N, DeVine D, Trikalinos T, Lau J. Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 153 (Prepared by Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract No. 290-02-0022). AHRQ Publication No. 07-E007. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. April 2007.
- Wolf, Jacqueline. (2003). Low breastfeeding rates and public health in the United States.. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 93(12). pp. 2000-2009.
- United States Breastfeeding Committee. (2002). Economic benefits of breastfeeding [issue paper].
- United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. (2008). The Business Case for Breastfeeding
- Ball T & Wright A. (1999). Health care costs of formula-feeding in the first year of life. Pediatrics, 103 (4), 871-876.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (2007). Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries. Evidence report, Technology Assessment, Number 153.
- Galtry J. (1997). Lactation and the labor market: breastfeeding, labor market changes, and public policy in the United States. Health Care Women Int. 18, 467-480.
- Wright, Anne L., Bauer, Mark, Naylor, Audrey, Sutcliffe, Emily, and Clark, Larry. (1998). Increasing breastfeeding rates to reduce infant illness at the community level.. Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics. Volume 101(5): pp. 837-844.
- Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health, 2000:1-33
- American Academy of Pediatrics, Work Group on Breastfeeding. (1997). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 100 (6): pp.1035-39. Retrieved on the World Wide Web on December 02, 2003 from www.aap.org
- Department of Health and Human Services- Office of Women's Health (OWH). (2003). National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved on World Wide Web on October 25, 2003 from www.4woman.gov/
Last Updated October 2010