Breastfeeding Multiples: It Can Be Done

Linda K. Bennington, PhD, RN


NAINR. 2011;11(4):194-197. 

In This Article

Benefits of Breastfeeding and Human Milk


Research in developed and developing countries has demonstrated strong evidence that human milk decreases the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of infectious diseases that includes necrotizing enterocolitis,[3] respiratory tract infections,[4] and late-onset sepsis in preterm infants.[5] An additional statistic worth noting is that postneonatal infant mortality rates in the United States are reduced by 21% in breastfed infants.[6] In a comparison of individuals who were breastfed against those who were not, the research suggests a decrease in the rates of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of life;[7] a reduction in the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes[8] and non–insulin-dependent diabetes;[9] a decrease in the rates of overweight and obesity,[10] hypercholesterolemia,[11] and asthma.[12]


There are health benefits for the mother who breastfeeds as well, and these include decreased postpartum bleeding and faster and earlier uterine involution as well as a quicker return to prepregnancy weight.[13] Longer term health benefits include a decreased risk of breast cancer,[14] decreased risk of ovarian cancer,[15] and possibly decreased risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis in the postmenopausal period.[16]


There are surprising economic, family, and environmental benefits to breastfeeding. Besides the obvious decreased environmental burden for disposal of formula cans and bottles and decreased energy demands for production and transport of artificial feeding products, there is the potential for a decreased annual health care cost of approximately $3.6 billion in the United States alone. This would come from decreased costs for public health programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, decreased parental employee absenteeism, and associated loss of family income as a result of decreased infant illness.[17]


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