UC Davis researchers say the health benefits of breastfeeding have long been known, but a new study shows it can also prevent death and disease for both the mother and child.
Researchers say diseases like breast cancer, diabetes and hypertension can be prevented in women who breastfeed for a year. Meanwhile, ear infections, obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome were preventable in children who breastfed.
Research shows breastfeeding for at least a year would prevent 2,600 maternal deaths and more than 700 hundred child deaths annually. It could also save the U.S. more than $4.3 billion in health care costs.
Eleanor Schwarz, a professor of Internal Medicine with the UC Davis Health System, says that money would be better spent supporting women who want to breastfeed.
"Medicine costs money," she says. "Visits to doctors offices cost money and so if we were able to get rid of those needs to go to a clinic and all that need for extra medicine that would be a lot of health care savings."
She says some communities have lower rates of breastfeeding, especially African American mothers.
"We see disparities in rates of breast cancer," says Schwarz. "We see disparities in rates of diabetes and heart disease and all of these things that could be fixed with one simple approach of just trying to get more moms able to breastfeed their babies, which would be good for the babies and good for the moms."