The study's authors analyzed the costs associated with 10 pediatric diseases at the nation's current breastfeeding rates, and then compared those with projected costs for those same diseases assuming a 90% compliance rate with recommendations. In addition to direct medical costs from those diseases, which included childhood asthma and lower-respiratory infections such as pneumonia, they also included in their estimates other expenses including lost wages due to time off work.
The lead author, Melissa Bartick, a hospitalist at the Cambridge (Mass.) Health Alliance, attributed the low compliance rates to a combination of factors including poor evidence-based breastfeeding instruction in hospitals and a lack of workplace support. True attributable costs could actually be much higher than $13 billion, they argued, because breastfeeding has been linked to lower rates of type 2 diabetes, maternal cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. Estimates of those costs were not considered.
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