A case study on the economic impact of optimal breastfeeding.
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To develop a framework, using Louisiana as a case study, for estimating the potential cost savings to individual states if families were able to meet current recommendations for breastfeeding. Using cost-analyses methods, cost savings, as well as, case and death reductions of infant illnesses and deaths on four selected infant diseases (respiratory tract infections, gastroenteritis, necrotizing enterocolitis, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) were calculated utilizing the most recent data of breastfeeding and low/very low birth weight rates in Louisiana. To estimate the incidence of a disease in exclusive breastfed infants and formula fed infants respectively, we used the following formula: x=s/br+1-b. Here "x" is the incidence rate of one disease in formula fed infants, "s" is the overall incidence of the disease, "b" is current breastfeeding rate and "r" is the odds ratios in favor of breastfeeding. A total of $216,103,368 could be saved and 18 infant deaths prevented, by these four conditions alone, if 90% of newborns in Louisiana were exclusive breastfed for the first 6months of life ($186,371,125 in savings and 16 infant deaths prevented with 80% compliance). Increased rates of breastfeeding to the level of Healthy People 2020 goals and beyond would yield significant cost savings to Louisiana. Other US states can use the presented framework to demonstrate cost savings associated with breastfeeding promotion and support interventions in their respective states.