UNC's Dr. Alison Stuebe co-authored an article in the June 2013 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology entitled "Cost Analysis of Maternal Disease Associated With Suboptimal Breastfeeding".
Using published literature, the authors estimated the burden of disease for 1.88 million women who turned 15 in 2002 if they breastfed at current rates, versus if 90% were able to follow medical recommendations to breastfeed for at least 12 months per child. It was estimated that current breastfeeding rates are responsible for 4,981 cases of breast cancer, 53,947 cases of hypertension, and 13,946 heart attacks, with medical costs exceeding $850 million. Suboptimal breastfeeding incurs $17.4 billion in societal costs due to premature maternal deaths before the age of 70.
What is known from CDC data is that more than half of women stop breastfeeding earlier than they desire. Premature weaning is typically considered a child health problem, but these data suggest that women who are unable to achieve their breastfeeding goals face long term health risks.
Dr. Stuebe states "We have a responsibility to create a culture that values mothers and children and enables all women to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals."
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