Breastfeeding provides increased health benefits for both infants and their mothers, as well as significant financial benefits.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of breast milk feedings are due to the species-specific live cells, antibodies and hormones that are present human breast milk but lacking in formula.

Breastfeeding Babies Health Benefits

Full Term Infants


Full term infants who breastfeed are at reduced risk for1,2:

  • Lower respiratory tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Asthma
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Otitis media
  • Colds, ear and throat infections
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)
  • GI tract infections
  • Celiac disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Atopic dermatitis, eczema
  • Higher Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Type I and II Diabetes
  • Leukemia: ALL, AML

Mothers


Mothers who lactate are less likely to develop:

  • Breast or ovarian cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Postpartum depression 1,2

Preterm Infants


Preterm infants who receive their mother’s breast milk receive numerous benefits as well1,2:


Immediate Benefits include1,2:

  • Decreased rate of sepsis
  • Decreased rates of Necrotizing Enterocolitis, NEC
  • Fewer hospital re-admissions within one year of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) discharge
  • Improved clinical feeding tolerance and attainment of full enteral feeds
  • Decreased severe retinopathy and prematurity

Long Term Benefits include1,2:

  • Improved neurodevelopmental outcomes
  • Decreased metabolic syndrome
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
  • Increased leptin and insulin metabolism

Watch Video

Title: Benefits of Breastfeeding for Moms & Babies
Description: General breastfeeding information that highlights key health benefits for both mother and baby.

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Benefits of Breastfeeding Video

Economic Benefits


In addition, breastfeeding provides significant economic benefits.

 

Total US

A detailed pediatric cost analysis based on a report prepared by the US Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) concluded that if 90% of US mothers would comply with the recommendation to breastfeed for 6 months, there would be a savings of $13 billion per year.3


Per Infant
Each baby that is breastfed for six months provides an estimated healthcare cost savings of $3,172 per infant.3

 

Pre-Term Infant

Preterm infants who receive breast milk for >50% of their feedings in the first 14 days of life have a six-fold decrease in developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). This can decrease cost and length of stay, saving $74,000 per case and 12 additional days for medical NEC and $198,000 for 43 additional days per case of surgical NEC.4, 5

References

  1. 1. American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics. 2012;129(3): e827-841. Available at www.pediatrics.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2011-3552
  2. 2. Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, Trikalinos TA, Lau J. A summary of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's evidence report on breastfeeding in developed countries. Breastfeed Med, 2009;4(SI ):S 17-30
  3. 3. Bartick M, Reinhold A. The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: a pediatric cost analysis.  Pediatrics. 2010; 125(5). Available at: www.pediatrics.org/cgi/conent/full/125/5/e1048,  accessed 3/21/13.
  4. 4. Sisk PM, Lovelady CA, Dillard RG, Gruber KJ, O'Shea TM. Early human milk feeding is associated with a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight infants. J Perinatol. 2007;27:428-33.
  5. 5. Ganapathy V, Hay JW, Kim JH. Costs of necrotizing enterocolitis and cost-effectiveness of exclusively human milk-based products in feeding extremely premature infants. Breastfeed Med. 2012;7(I):29-37.