London: Breastfeeding has an impact on a country’s economy as well as on the health of its women and children, reveals a study.
According to the researchers, breastfeeding is a powerful and unique intervention that benefits mothers and children at the same time.
The research demonstrated that breastfeeding results in improved child development, with huge economics gains for individuals, families, as well as at the national level, the researchers said.
While nearly 20,000 breast cancer deaths are prevented each year by breastfeeding, an estimated 820,000 child deaths could also be prevented annually (about 13 percent of all under-five child deaths) by improving the breastfeeding rates, the findings showed.
“Supporting breastfeeding makes economic sense for rich and poor countries and this latest breastfeeding study proves it,” said Cesar Victora, professor at Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil.
The study, published in The Lancet — Breastfeeding Series, revealed that longer the duration of breastfeeding that a child receives higher would be his or her academic performance. They will also have increased long-term earnings, and improved productivity.
Breastfeeding would reduce the treatment costs of common childhood illness, like diarrhoea and respiratory infections, the researchers noted.
Also mothers who breastfeeds decrease their risk of developing invasive breast cancer and benefits from reduced ovarian cancer risk, they added.
Globally rates for breastfeeding stands at 35.7 percent, despite international recommendations that all children should be exclusively breastfed from birth to six months of age, commented the researchers.
They also added that the World Health Assembly has set target for countries to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life to at least 50 percent by 2025.
(Also Read: Paracetamol use in pregnancy may harm fertility)
The study also determined that increasing breastfeeding rates to 90 percent in the US, China, and Brazil and to 45 percent in Britain would cut the treatment costs of common childhood illness and save at least $2.45 billion in the US, $29.5 million in Britain, $223.6 million in China, and $6.0 million in Brazil.
In total, more than 1,300 studies were reviewed to provide the most exhaustive look at the benefits, determinants, and trends in breastfeeding to date.