The importance of breastfeeding is not limited to health benefits. Higher rates of breastfeeding reap economic benefits too, which in turn can alleviate the strain of poverty in developing nations.
According to a series of studies published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, if a greater number of women breastfed from birth through at least six months of their baby’s life, it could save nearly 820,000 lives and billions of dollars.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that if 50 to 75 percent of mothers breastfed through six months, the U.S. alone would save $3.6 billion each year.
The actual savings could be even higher, as these figures come from the cost savings of only three illnesses that are most common among children who are not breastfed. Breastfeeding reduces the risk factor of many other diseases and health complications as well.
In poorer countries, breastfeeding substantially reduces the number of childhood deaths from preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea.
These diseases are most commonly found in children in poor and underdeveloped countries, which typically already suffer huge economic losses from health problems.
Not only can breastfeeding greatly reduce the risk of these health problems, it can also save millions that would be spent treating these diseases after the fact.
The continued evidence of the importance of breastfeeding is greatly heartening. The difficulty is in getting this critical information to the women who need it most.
As a Huffington Post article explains, the real and current battle involves increasing awareness and education specifically to poorer mothers about the importance of breastfeeding.
Investments in healthcare programs in developing countries should continue focusing on health education, with a strong priority on basic elements of women’s health.
By increasing awareness of women’s health, including the importance of breastfeeding, countries can save many precious lives and valuable resources.
– Emily Milakovic