Jamie schools the world in her latest post at Light and Momentary.
Here are two things you might like to know about the study published Monday in Pediatrics.
- The authors do not say anywhere that mothers are not trying hard enough. No one needs to read about this study and then run through the reasons why she stopped breastfeeding to make sure they're good enough. You in the pink shirt over there, relax. It's not about whether you suffered enough, not at all.
- It's all about the fact that modest differences add up to big numbers in large populations. Because of the magnitude of the potential savings, the authors call for improved support and infrastructure for breastfeeding mothers.
Most of the blogosphere buzz about this article has focused on its calculation that six months of exclusive breastfeeding by 90% of mothers would save more than 900 children's lives as well as $13 billion annually. We can't have those kind of breastfeeding rates without paid maternity leave, people are saying, so what's your point, Dr. Bartick?
But they're not just talking about Breastopia in this article. The authors present a range of numbers, and the 90% values have gotten all the press because big numbers make big headlines. No one seems to be talking about the more attainable outcomes: if we could just hit the Healthy People 2010 targets, we would save still save billions annually (billions as in 2.2, but still, billions, plural) and 142 children's lives. Those are reachable goals: they specify that 75% of babies will begin breastfeeding -- a single attempt counts -- and 50% of babies will still be receiving some human milk -- even a tiny fraction of their intake -- at six months old.
We don't need to reform the whole maternity leave system to save lives and dollars. (Not that I'd complain if anyone wanted to tackle the vexed issue of maternity leave in the US.) Here are some things we do need...
Read the whole thing.