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Change the conversation about medicines and breastfeeding

I spend on average 4 full hours across every day providing info to mums told they HAVE to stop breastfeeding to take medicines. Do more people know about the drugs in breastmilk service or are professionals less willing to take risks so stopping breastfeeding seen as best option? How can we change the conversation ?

Where does it make sense to tell mothers stop breastfeeding to take medicines when we have specialist support texts and services? Breastfeeding has HUGE advantages for mums, babies and the economy. We need to listen, support and provide evidence based info for all mums breastfeeding  and formula feeding not rely on manufacturers

There are economic savings for the health economy.  Renfrew (2012) provided a detailed cost analysis of potential savings, reductions in hospital admissions and GP appointments:

Assuming a moderate increase in breastfeeding rates, if 45% of women exclusively breastfed for four months, and if 75% of babies in neonatal units were breastfed at discharge, every year there could be an estimated:

  • 3,285 fewer gastrointestinal infection-related hospital admissions and 10,637 fewer GP consultations, with over £3.6 million saved in treatment costs annually
  • 5,916 fewer lower respiratory tract infection related hospital admissions and 22,248 fewer GP consultations, with around £6.7 million saved in treatment costs annually
  • 21,045 fewer acute otitis media (AOM) related GP consultations, with over £750,000 saved in treatment costs annually
  • 361 fewer cases of NEC, with over £6 million saved in treatment costs annually.

In total, over £17 million could be gained annually by avoiding the costs of treating four acute diseases in infants. Increasing breastfeeding prevalence further would result in even greater cost savings”

In addition, if half those mothers who currently do not breastfeed were to breastfeed for up to 18 months in their lifetime, for each annual cohort of around 313,000 first-time mothers there could be:

  • 865 fewer breast cancer cases with cost savings to the health service of over £21 million, 512 breast cancer-related quality adjusted life years (QALYs) would be gained, equating to a value of over £10 million.

This could result in an incremental benefit of more than £31 million, over the lifetime of each annual cohort of first-time mothers.


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