CHICAGO — The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women fed their babies breast milk only for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says.Okay. Assuming that these estimates are all correct -- and why not? -- there's a rather important point here: you could eliminate 900 deaths a year, and add $13 billion to the US economy, and nobody save the grieving parents would ever notice.
Those startling results, published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, are only an estimate. But several experts who reviewed the analysis said the methods and conclusions seem sound....
The $13 billion in estimated losses due to the low breast-feeding rate includes an economists' calculation partly based on lost potential lifetime wages — $10.56 million per death.
For example: even in a low-growth post-recessionary period, when the US GDP increases say, 1% a year, that still amounts to $140 billion a year, or ten times the estimated benefits of universal breastfeeding.
During "normal" times, when the economy grows at 4-5%, well, you do the math.
I'm not a pediatrician by any means, but the benefits of breastfeeding are pretty hotly contested. If the best estimate says that a country of 300 million might save as many as 900 lives every year by universal breastfeeding, I kind of wonder what's the point. You could save more lives by enforcing drunk driving laws more rigorously.