Why Breastfeeding Longer Could Save 900 Babies -- and Billions of Dollars -- Each Year

By Kaitlin Stanford for TheBump.com

Yep, you read that right. According to a new study, if 90 percent of US moms breastfed their babies for just six months, an estimated 900 infants who die each year of preventable illness would most likely live, thanks to powerful antibodies found only in breast milk. And if that's not the biggest hell yea to breastfeeding we've heard lately, there's more: Economists calculate it could also save us a whopping $13 billion in healthcare costs.

Pretty stunned by those stats? So were we. But apparently, hundreds of infant death cases each year cite health complications that breast milk has been found to actually help prevent - conditions like asthma, ear infections, stomach viruses, leukemia, Type 1 diabetes, SIDS, and even childhood obesity. Yet while we've all known for years that breast milk boosts baby's immune system, these new findings - recently published in the medical journal Pediatrics-are the first to pinpoint just when exactly those breastfeeding benefits actually start to pay off.

So just how many mamas actually breastfeed to that six-month mark after all? The answer may surprise you. Despite recent reports that found 73 percent of US moms try breastfeeding, only about 33 percent keep it up for three months, and by six months, barely 14 percent of moms are still at it. But as most mamas know, part of that drop-off is due to any number of common culprits; maybe the little guy just doesn't seem to take to it so easily or breastfeeding has become too painful or your office doesn't have a pumping room - whatever the reason, docs are quick to point out it's not Mom's fault. But here's some good news that may solve at least some breastfeeding dilemmas: The new healthcare bill not only calls for large companies to provide pumping rooms for working moms but also calls for new hospital evaluations to make sure baby gets off to a solid start and being fed only breast milk before going home.

Moms on TheBump.com weigh in on how long they breastfed for -- see the surprising results

And as for that $13 billion, economists say that number's partly based on the treatment costs, and partly based on the lost potential lifetime wages expected of each baby who dies of a preventable disease each year - which believe it or not, totals an eye-opening $10.56 million per death.

What are/were some of your breastfeeding experiences? If you had trouble breastfeeding do you think any of the new initiatives in the healthcare bill will/would have helped you?

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