Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
Transforming Health Care Through Evidence and Collaboration
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The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Strategies for Health Plans

October 25, 2011 | 09:00 AM
10:30 AM ET

The health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby are well known—breast milk is ideally suited to meet the nutritional needs of infants, and it contains disease-fighting antibodies that protect both mothers and infants. Studies demonstrate that children who are breastfed are less likely to become obese during childhood and adolescence. The economic benefits of breastfeeding are equally substantial—if 90 percent of American babies were breastfed exclusively for 6 months, the U.S. could save an estimated $13 billion annually from reduced direct medical costs, indirect costs and the costs of premature deaths.1 However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 15 percent of the 75 percent of mothers who initiate breastfeeding meet the AAP’s recommendation to provide exclusively breast milk for the first 6 months of an infant’s life.

This webinar presented "The Business Case for Breastfeeding," developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau, highlighting strategies for health plans to educate employers on the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace and ways health plans can encourage members to initiate breastfeeding and to continue to breastfeed after returning to work. The webinar also shared promising practices among health plans to promote breastfeeding, including worksite lactation programs for health plan employees and programs to provide access to breast pumps and lactation support for members.

1The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington DC, 2011.

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Recent Breastfeeding Research

  • Godfrey, JR, Lawrence, RA. “Toward Optimal Health: The Maternal Benefits of Breastfeeding.” Journal of Women’s Health 2010; 19(9): 1597-1602.
  • Hauck, FR, Thompson, JMD, Tanabe, KO, Moon RY, Vennemann, MM. "Breastfeeding and Reduced Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis." Pediatrics 2011; 128(1): 103-110.
  • Stratton, J, Henry, BW. "What Employers and Health Care Providers Can Do to Support Breastfeeding in the Workplace: Aiming to Match Positive Attitudes with Action." Infant, Child and Adolescent Nutrition 2011; (3)5: 300-307.