CHICAGO — The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says.
Those startling results, published online today in the journal Pediatrics, are only an estimate. But several experts who reviewed the analysis said the methods and conclusions seem sound.
"The health care system has got to be aware that breast-feeding makes a profound difference," said Ruth Lawrence, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics' breast-feeding section.
The findings suggest that there are hundreds of deaths and many more costly illnesses each year from health problems that breast-feeding may help prevent. These include stomach viruses, ear infections, asthma, juvenile diabetes and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.