Review advocates breastfeeding could have multibillion-dollar benefit for global economy

It’s not about my right to breastfeed; it’s about my child’s right to eat. An adage to motivate young mothers to breastfeed their babies. Babies and their mothers can accrue a slew of health benefits from Breastfeeding. However for the first time, the international scientific fraternities have come together and put on paper the monetary benefits which the world can accrue by just breastfeeding their newborn. The amount comes to a staggering $300 billion annually almost equal to the global pharmaceutical industry.

The authors of the study made note of several hard-hitting facts – 820,000 child deaths—about 13 percent of all deaths of children under age 5— could be prevented each year by improving breastfeeding rates.

The study involved estimating benefits, determinants, and drifts in breastfeeding from 28 methodical reviews, 22 specially commissioned meta-analyses and more than 1,300 studies. The study revealed that longer breastfeeding was linked to better performance in cognitive tests among children and adolescents. The breastfeeding effects did not end there but further translated into improved academic performance, greater long-term financial gains, and improved productivity.

Breastfeeding also had added benefits health wise also. Better breastfeeding rates prevented 50% of diarrhea episodes and one-third of all respiratory infections. The health benefits transcend beyond the child and encompass the mother also. If the mother, for each of the first two years breastfeeds, throughout her life, she sees a 6 percent lower risk of breast cancer, as well as a reduced risk of ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding already prevents 20000 breast cancer deaths each year. Better breastfeeding rates can increase this figure even higher and could help prevent an additional 20,000 deaths linked with the disease.

Dr. Cesar Victora, a distinguished professor at the International Center for Equity in Health, Post-Graduate Program in Epidemiology, and the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, said in a news release said that breastfeeding made economic sense. However scant maternity leave provisions and burgeoning breast milk substitutes in the market are having a direct impact on a mother’s decision to breastfeed. Breastfeeding rates are not improving as we would like them to laments Victora.