Breastfeeding Could Save Many Lives, Prevent Illnesses

Breastfeeding Could Save Many Lives, Prevent Illnesses
Jessica Salazar holds her twins, Matias, left, and Josue, right, as they take part in a breastfeeding contest in Lima, Aug. 26, 2008, sponsored by Peru's Health Ministry to help promote breastfeeding.   (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)

The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90% of American women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life, finds a startling study published today in the journal Pediatrics. A similar 2001 government report said $3.6 billion could be saved each year if 50% of mothers breast-fed. Illnesses that could be prevented include stomach viruses, ear infections, asthma, juvenile diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and even childhood leukemia.

"Breast-feeding makes a profound difference," Dr. Ruth Lawrence, who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics' breast-feeding section, tells the AP. About 43% of US mothers do at least some breast-feeding for six months—only 12% breast-feed exclusively. Read the full article. (Read more breastfeeding stories.)

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