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Breastfeeding is an Investment in Women, Children & The World

In an era where investing in women stands as a cornerstone of progress, breastfeeding emerges as a potent catalyst—a transformative investment in the health of women, children, and our world. Empowering mothers to breastfeed matters profoundly, as evidenced by a wealth of research.


For every year that a mother breastfeeds, her risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis is significantly reduced [1]. These statistics underscore the importance of supporting breastfeeding initiatives and providing mothers with the resources they need to make informed choices about infant feeding.


However, the impact of breastfeeding extends far beyond individual health. It fosters societal well-being by enhancing maternal-infant bonding, reducing healthcare costs, and promoting environmental sustainability. Premature babies, in particular, benefit immensely from receiving their mother's breast milk, with studies showing that their chances of survival improve significantly [2]. Moreover, breastfed babies experience lower rates of ear infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, asthma, and allergies [3]. The benefits continue into adulthood, with breastfed individuals demonstrating improved cardiovascular health [4].


A greater investment in breastfeeding could play a crucial role in protecting our environment as well. For example, in the UK alone, supporting mothers to breastfeed could lead to significant carbon emission savings, equivalent to taking between 50,000 and 77,500 cars off the road each year [5]. According to research, breastfeeding for six months saves an estimated 95-153 kg CO2 equivalent per baby compared with formula feeding [6]. This reduction in carbon emissions contributes to a more sustainable future for our planet.


As we commemorate International Women's Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to investing in breastfeeding. By advocating for policies that prioritize breastfeeding support and empower women, we pave the way for a healthier, more equitable future for generations to come.


References:


1. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. (2002). Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50,302 women with breast cancer and 96,973 women without the disease. The Lancet, 360(9328), 187-195.

2. Vohr, B. R., Poindexter, B. B., & Dusick, A. M. et al. (2007). Beneficial effects of breast milk in the neonatal intensive care unit on the developmental outcome of extremely low birth weight infants at 18 months of age. Pediatrics, 119(1), e101-e109.

3. Kramer, M. S., & Kakuma, R. (2001). Optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (2), CD003517.

4. Owen, C. G., Whincup, P. H., & Kaye, S. J. et al. (2008). Does initial breastfeeding lead to lower blood cholesterol in adult life? A quantitative review of the evidence. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 88(2), 305-314.

5. Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. (2012). Preventing Disease and Saving Resources: The Potential Contribution of Increasing Breastfeeding Rates in the UK. London: Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

6. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2019). Special Report on Climate Change and Land. Geneva: IPCC.




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