Photo of baby bottles.
Are American babies being deprived fundamental nutrients? CC by thesoftlanding/Flickr

Solutions for dealing with out of control health care costs are out there. In fact, there’s one very easy, natural solution. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of breastfeeding babies in the U.S. falls dramatically after babies are six months old, which runs counter to the recommended level in the CDC’s Healthy People criteria. Doctors cited in CDC research make a direct connection between low breastfeeding rates and higher pediatric costs and heightened potential for disease in infants who are not breastfed.

Healthy People were breastfed as kids

“Meeting the national breastfeeding initiation goal is a great accomplishment in women’s and children’s health, but we have more work ahead,” said Dr. William Dietz of the CDC to Medpage Today. As a mere 43 percent of babies are still breastfeeding at six months and 22 percent at one year – per the CDC study – America truly does have work to do.

Breastfeeding in troubled waters

In 2007, the CDC found great variation in breastfeeding rates across America. For example, while 90 percent of babies in Utah were breastfed, only 53 percent were in Mississippi. The stance state governments take on breastfeeding plays an important role in the CDC study. The CDC study found that there were 21 states without appropriate breastfeeding facilities or hospitals that scored low for maternity conveniences and lactation and latching instruction. While the National Conference of State Legislatures found two years after CDC study that there has been improvements in breastfeeding legislation nationwide, there are still a number of states that make breastfeeding mothers feel like criminals or social pariahs. Even Facebook took a stance against breastfeeding photos on decency grounds, so it appears the U.S. is in puritanical trouble. And if the details surrounding the long-term boycott of infant formula maker Nestlé are indicative, the culture of hostility toward breastfeeding extends far beyond this nation’s borders.

Avoid breastfeeding and be prepared to pay

According to Dr. Melissa Bartick of Harvard Medical School and Arnold Reinhold of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, the growing absence of colostrum-rich breastmilk in children’s diets has caused pediatric costs to skyrocket. Their recent report in the journal Pediatrics indicates that “$3.6 billion could be saved if breastfeeding rates were increased to levels of the Healthy People objectives.” That’s 2001 info. However, as Bartick and Reinhold updated the study, they found something quite shocking. Bartick and Reinhold found that if kids six months and younger were fed breastmilk exclusively at the CDC Healthy People level of 90 percent, American families could save “$13 billion per year and prevent an excess of 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants.”

Sources

Pediatrics: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2009-1616v1

CDC Breast Feeding Report Card: http://cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/BreastfeedingReportCard2010.pdf

Medpage Today: http://medpagetoday.com/Pediatrics/GeneralPediatrics/22162

National Conference of State Legislatures: http://ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_milk

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