The recent baby-formula crisis has exposed a seriously uncomfortable fact about modern American maternity. According to Dr. Ruth Petersen of the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC), “Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition…” yet nearly 20% of new-borns are never breastfed.
CDC guidelines recommend that mothers breastfeed their infants for the first year yet only 1-in-4 are exclusively breastfed even in the first 6-months. Breastfed children enjoy lower rates of obesity, asthma, diabetes, ear, respiratory, gastrointestinal infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, (SIDS). Mothers benefit by lowered risks of ovarian and breast cancers, diabetes and high-blood-pressure. Low rates of breastfeeding add more than 3-billion dollars to health care costs annually.
Not every mom is able to breastfeed, but the majority can. Given the overwhelming and uncontroversial benefits to babies, moms, and to societal costs and benefits in general, it is a mystery why a greater emphasis and importance isn’t attached to these facts. Perhaps the shortage of baby formula will serve as a wake-up call to parents that breastfeeding is not only the best choice but the surest assurance of nutritional outcomes you control.