The study, published online by Maternal and Child Nutrition, found a notably larger impact of breastfeeding on women’s health, compared with infant health.
Researchers discovered that there were significantly fewer premature deaths in women who breastfed as medically recommended compared to those who did not.
The study reports that 3,340 premature deaths of women and children in the U.S. annually were connected to “suboptimal breastfeeding” — less than six months of exclusive breastfeeding. The majority of those deaths — caused mostly by heart attacks, diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome — were maternal.
The study’s lead author,
Dr. Melissa Bartick, spoke about the effect of breastfeeding on women’s health.
“It has a bigger impact in terms of medical cost and a bigger impact in terms of lives saved,” Bartick told CommonHealth. “And most of that impact is derived from encouraging women to breastfeed as long as they can for each child.”
What about women who choose not to breastfeed, or have trouble breastfeeding? Bartick views this as an opportunity to help all women meet their breastfeeding goals.
“Now that we see that this is more of a women’s health issue, we are taking the fuel out of the “Mummy Wars,” she told CommonHealth. “This is not about who is a better mother; it’s about women being supported to take care of themselves and about society taking care of women.”
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