Breastfeeding Is the Smart, Healthy, Frugal Choice

Breastfeeding mother and baby

Research shows that breastfeeding is the right choice because it makes babies smarter, keeps mothers and babies healthier, and saves families and society money by avoiding higher future healthcare costs.

The Smart Choice

Developing infants use the fatty acids in their mothers’ milk for their brain development. Scientists have found that breastfed babies with particular genetic markers score three points higher than average on IQ tests.

“[A] person’s DNA is not really a blueprint, as it is commonly portrayed. ‘[Genes] are more like playbooks. . . . It’s not nature or nurture, but your genes operate frequently by making you more susceptible or less susceptible to certain environmental conditions.’ Hence, the withdrawal of breast milk from the diets of babies with a certain genetic predisposition resulted in a negative effect on intelligence.”

Nikhil Swaminathan,“Got Smarts? Mother’s Milk May Pump Up Baby’s IQ,” Scientific American, November 7, 2007.

The Healthy Choice

Breastfeeding is not only the perfectly balanced food for healthy babies, but the act of breastfeeding is the healthy choice for women. Breastfeeding helps break up fats the body builds up during pregnancy, keeps us blissed out on oxytocin, and helps us avoid many health risks later in life.

“[B]y not engaging in the process that the body prepares for during pregnancy, many crucial systems can go out of whack. And the effects can last for decades after children are weaned.”

Kathrine Harmon, “How Breastfeeding Benefits Mothers’ Health,” Scientific American, April 30, 2010.

The Frugal Choice

Breastfeeding saves a family money now, since it costs no more than some extra food or a few optional tools like a pump and bottle. Breastfeeding can also save money later as families and the larger society would save a significant amount of money in healthcare costs if all babies were exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months.

“If 90% of US families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, the United States would save $13 billion per year and prevent an excess 911 deaths, nearly all of which would be in infants ($10.5 billion and 741 deaths at 80% compliance).”

M. Bartick and A. Reinhold, “The burden of suboptimal breastfeeding in the United States: a pediatric cost analysis,” Pediatrics 2010 May:125(5):e1048-56. Epub 2010 Apr 5.

Your Breastfeeding Questions

Customers ask a lot of specific questions about breastfeeding. We’ve kept track of your questions, and we are looking to reliable sources to answer your questions each Wednesday this month. If you need answers now, breastfeeding support groups bring experienced mothers together with those who need help, and La Leche League always has reliable breastfeeding resources.

Image © Niderlander |

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