The United States Surgeon General recommends that at least 75% of newborns should be breastfed, and 50% of babies age 6 months. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service states that if these levels of breastfeeding were reached, the nation would save a minimum of $3.6 billion. The actual savings would likely be much more than this, since this figure counts the cost savings from treating only three childhood illnesses: gastroenteritis, otitis media, and necrotizing enterocolitis. There are actually many more health problems that can be averted through breastfeeding, and the benefits to premature babies are also significant.
Breastfeeding provides many health benefits to mothers, which represent major savings to the health care system. Nursing mothers have a reduced risk of many cancers and other serious diseases, both while lactating and long after stopping. These benefits are maximized the longer the mom continues to breastfeeding.
The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years; The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends at least one year. The AAP also says that each formula-fed baby costs the healthcare system between $331 and $475 more than a breastfed one in the first year of life. Treating the respiratory illnesses alone that result from not breastfeeding costs $225 million a year.
Employers’ medical costs are reduced when their employees breastfeed, because nursing mothers miss fewer days due to sick babies. Fewer insurance claims are filed by breastfeeding moms, because they and their babies are healthier than families who feed their babies formula.
Breastfeeding reduces the cost to our environment. It does not generate any trash and does not require any energy to produce, whereas formula creates garbage and uses energy to manufacture.