Briana Jegier, assistant professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at D’Youville College, is co-author of a new study that shows breast-feeding is critical to mother’s health.
Breast-feeding as recommended – for a total of one year and exclusively for six months – could protect babies and their moms from premature death and serious diseases and save the U.S. more than $4.3 billion in health care and related costs, according to a new study published online in Maternal & Child Nutrition.
“The study results highlight the potential for significant long-term return on investment for society if we invest in policies and interventions that help moms breast-feed longer, particularly maternal cost savings and maternal deaths averted,” Jegier said in a news release.
Study authors said their findings underscore the importance of providing women with the support they need to breast-feed their babies, beginning at birth.
“Breast-feeding has a greater impact on women’s health than previously appreciated,” said lead author Dr. Melissa Bartick, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“The results should lead to policies that help support women to breast-feed longer and help exclusive breast-feeding, such as paid family leave, workplace support and evidence-based maternity practices around infant feeding.”
“Paid leave keeps mothers and babies together, which is essential for breast-feeding,” said senior author Alison Stuebe, distinguished scholar of infant and young child feeding at Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute.
“Breast-feeding has long been framed as a child health issue, however it is clearly a women’s health issue as well,” said co-author Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, professor of medicine at UC Davis Health System. It “helps prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease, yet many women have no idea breast-feeding has any of these benefits.”