Preventing Disease and Saving Resources looks at how raising breastfeeding rates could save the NHS money through improving health outcomes.
The report was commissioned by Unicef UK and written by a multi-university academic team. The authors’ calculations show that moderate increases in breastfeeding could see millions in potential annual savings to the NHS – and that figure might only be the tip of the iceberg.
The report findings show that for just five illnesses, moderate increases in breastfeeding would translate into cost savings for the NHS of up to £50 million and tens of thousands of fewer hospital admissions and GP consultations.
In addition, analyses on three conditions – cognitive ability, childhood obesity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – indicate that modest improvements in breastfeeding rates could save millions of pounds and, in the case of SIDS, children’s lives.
The report makes a strong financial case for investing in better support services for women, to enable them to start breastfeeding and continue for as long as they want to. Additional resources are also available to make the case for better breastfeeding support: a comprehensive report in the Lancet (2016) and recent commissioning guidance from Public Health England and Unicef UK.