Breastfeeding and strengthening of the economy: Offering merits beyond nutrition

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Breastfeeding and strengthening of the economy: Offering merits beyond nutrition. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:298-9


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Breastfeeding and strengthening of the economy: Offering merits beyond nutrition. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Apr 14];9:298-9. Available from:

Dear Sir,

Worldwide, every infant and child has the right to have a good nutrition not only to ensure optimal growth and neurodevelopment but also to avert almost 45% of child deaths attributed to undernutrition across the globe.[1] In fact, only one-third (36%) of the total infants are exclusively breastfed for the recommended period of the first 6 months of life, and this estimate has persisted for the last couple of decades.[1] Further, it has been estimated that in excess of 0.8 million deaths can be averted in the 0-5 year age group annually, provided they are optimally breastfed for the first 2 years of their lives.[1],[2]

However, the biggest public health challenge for the stakeholders is that despite numerous merits associated with breastfeeding to both mother and child, still it is no longer a norm in many sections of the society.[2] Overall, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding has been quite low in both high and low income nations.[1],[2] However, in contrast to the low and middle income nations, high income nations are still struggling to reach a consensus to encourage the practice of breastfeeding.[1],[2],[3] Further, even the duration of breastfeeding has been reported to be quite short when compared with the estimates from the resource-poor settings.[2],[3]

A wide range of determinants like absence or shortcomings in the legal and policy provisions (like weak enforcement of prohibiting the marketing of breast milk substitutes), social attitudes and values prevalent among the general population, working conditions among women, and lack of health-care services, or breastfeeding supportive measures, have significantly influenced the chances of women to successfully breastfeed and even continue it for the recommended duration.[1],[2],[4],[5]

On the other hand, it has been envisaged that by ensuring the promotion and protection of breastfeeding the economy of the nation can be remarkably strengthened.[2] This has been attributed to the reduction in the direct and indirect medical expenses associated with the treatment of common childhood illnesses like diarrhoeal diseases or acute respiratory infections, decreased burden on the health care delivery system (including less expenses on resources/medical equipments), and thus contribution to the gross national income.[2]

Acknowledging the public health concern and the numerous advantages associated with the promotion of breastfeeding not only in the present but also in the future years, and to meet the set target of increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding to 50% by the year 2025, the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in coordination with other international agencies have advocated for the global breastfeeding advocacy initiative.[1],[2] Further, measures like ensuring the existence of the supportive health system, implementing measures to promote both work and breastfeeding together (like maternity leave, workplace strategies, etc.), planning strategies to create awareness among the general population, and developing a monitoring and support systems for strengthening the overall capacity for implementation of the policies.[1],[4],[5]

To conclude, breastfeeding has been identified as the first intervention against death; disease; and cost-effective investments in achieving physical, cognitive, and social capacity. Thus, it is high time that all the stakeholders should work in collaboration to improve the rate of breastfeeding.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



World Health Organization. Infant and young child feeding — Fact sheet No 342; 2016. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2016 Jan 26].
World Health Organization. Increasing breastfeeding could save 800 000 children and US$ 300 billion every year; 2016. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2016 Jan 31].
Rayfield S, Oakley L, Quigley MA. Association between breastfeeding support and breastfeeding rates in the UK: A comparison of late preterm and term infants. BMJ Open 2015;5:e009144.
Vanderkruik R, Lemon E, Dimidjian S. Breastfeeding support and messaging: A call to integrate public health and psychological perspectives. Matern Child Health J 2015;19:2545-7.
Johnson AM, Kirk R, Muzik M. Overcoming workplace barriers: A focus group study exploring African American mothers’ needs for workplace breastfeeding support. J Hum Lact 2015;31:425-33.

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.184803

Paul Mies has now been involved with test reports and comparing products for a decade. He is a highly sought-after specialist in these areas as well as in general health and nutrition advice. With this expertise and the team behind, they test, compare and report on all sought-after products on the Internet around the topics of health, slimming, beauty and more. The results are ultimately summarized and disclosed to readers.


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