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Research Co-authored by D’Youville Faculty Member Gives Birth to Innovative Breastfeeding Savings Calculator

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Research Co-authored by D’Youville Faculty Member Gives Birth to Innovative Breastfeeding Savings CalculatorPhoto courtesy of Chelsea Modern Images

Research Co-authored by D’Youville Faculty Member Gives Birth to Innovative Breastfeeding Savings Calculator

Buffalo, New York – September 22, 2017 – Dr. Briana J. Jegier, assistant professor of Health Services Administration in D’Youville College’s School of Health Professions, has co-authored a new study on the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding. At the heart of the research is an interactive breastfeeding savings calculator. The unique online tool harnesses data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to estimate the impact of changes in breastfeeding rates on population health.

Using CDC data from 2012 and the published literature, the cost calculator focuses on the association between suboptimal breastfeeding and nine pediatric illnesses, including obesity, ear infections, Crohn’s disease, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, as well as five maternal illnesses, such as breast cancer and hypertension. The calculator estimates the impact of differences in breastfeeding rates in a modeled population of women followed from age 15 to age 70 and their children. Users of the tool can specify any of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, or model the entire U.S. population. 

“Our return on investment is greater when women’s breastfeeding goals are valued,” Jegier explains. “With greater inclusion of breastfeeding support programs and benefits in public and private health insurance plans, insurers and providers may find this tool allows quicker estimation of their impact on plan expenditure and on society.”

Jegier traces her research interests back to her own childhood, when she frequently babysat younger family members. Today, as a working mother with an infant and two school-aged children, she is focused on leveraging research to demonstrate the economic benefits of breastfeeding and the need for better lactation support policies.

“Society reveres the pregnant woman, but supporting the mother, that’s where our policies must catch up to our values,” she says. She points out that women of color are particularly underserved. Her hope is that this new study will raise awareness to help improve workplace policies and community-based support programs. 

Dr. Melissa Bartick, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and one of the 11 co-authors, calls the new calculator “a game-changer.”

The study will be published in Breastfeeding Medicine, the official journal of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and the study is available to read online. To access the interactive cost calculator, visit the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) website, an independent nonprofit coalition of more than 50 nationally influential professional, educational, and governmental organizations.

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