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Brestfeeding baby has benefits for mom too!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Feeding your children the way God intended is good not just for baby, but also for mom according to a new study in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the study, if moms breast-fed their children for at least one year they can prevent up to 5000 cases of breast cancer, 54,000 cases of hypertension, and almost 14,000 heart attacks each year.

Preventing those diseases would save about $860 million. There'd also be significant personal savings since expenditures on baby formula would drop.

Interestingly, the study was the result of the sophisticated statistical model that researchers used to compare the effect of current breast-feeding rates to it they believe the ideal should be.

Harvard research Doctor Melissa Bartik led the study. Her method included simulating the experiences of 2 million US women from the time they were 15 until they turned 70, and involved estimating outcomes and costs during that period.

They then applied data from the status quo. For example, just 25 percent of US women breast-feed their children for a full year. Using their sophisticated computer models, they calculated that if 90 percent of women breast-fed instead of just 25, we would realize the benefits outlined above.

Researchers acknowledge that the study is unconventional in so far as it did not track actual women, but rather simulated entities. Still, Bartick believes the numbers suggest a strong benefit for women who breast-feed. They also show there to be a strong national benefit in terms of healthier children, mothers, and long-term savings for the nation if breast-feeding for a full year became the norm.

Bartick explained that 60 percent of  women don't even meet their own personal breast-feeding goals. She said, "we need to do more to support women so they can breast-feed longer. There are thousands of needless cases of disease and death that could be prevented."

Despite all the diseases that can be mitigated or prevented by breast-feeding, one particular disease did not seem to be impacted in the study; there was no significant impact on ovarian cancer.

The model also generated another grim statistic, the cost to society of women dying before 70. Because so many women do not breast-feed and therefore do not receive the benefits of breast-feeding, they are more susceptible to dying before 70. The cost of that total came to $17.4 billion. An economic model that assigns a value in dollars to each human life was used to calculate the expense.

While virtually everybody agrees that breast-feeding is a good and beneficial thing to do, our society has constructed obstacles to the practice. First, breast-feeding in public is generally frowned upon because of the over-sexualization of the female breast in American culture. In addition, we live in a culture of convenience where taking the time to pump and breast-feed can often be more work than to simply prepare a bottle of instant formula for baby.

Unfortunately, these practices can be detrimental to the long-term development of children, and the health of their mothers. Although baby formula provides more than adequate nutrition for growing children, it does not provide the same benefits as breast milk. And it's obvious that formula feeding a child does not provide many benefits for mom either.

One final benefit from breast-feeding that wasn't mentioned in the study is the release of hormones during breast-feeding that can strengthen the bond between mother and child. These hormones are released during feeding and can help fight the blues following childbirth.

These facts taken as a whole suggest that our society should reevaluate how it views the practice of breast-feeding, and should do more to encourage it.

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