Date: March 19, 2016

Remember when we discovered that aspirin was good for helping people who have had heart attacks? A big scary expensive health issue could be addressed with a product that you could get at your local gas station. Good news for everybody except companies trying to market expensive blood thinning medication.

Say we discovered an even lower cost health intervention that could save many lives, make people healthier and smarter and was a completely renewable resource. Also people didn’t even have to go as far as the gas station to get it. We would clear a wide path to make sure supply of such a product was readily available to anybody who needed it. And what if the humans who needed it were babies? Any discussion about whether or not we should promote its usage would be ludicrous.

Aspirin? A new report in the respected medical journal The Lancet is unequivocal about the benefits of nursing babies to mothers, kids and the economy. “If breastfeeding did not already exist, someone who invented it today would deserve a dual Nobel Prize in medicine and economics,” writes the World Bank’s vice president for human development, Keith Hansen. According to The Lancet‘s research—and the folks there went pretty deep into the research—universal breast feeding of every child until the age of one would lead to:

  • Preventing the deaths of 823 000 kids under 5 years old and 20,000 mothers per year
  • Savings of $300 billion for the U.S.
  • For kids: fewer infections, increased intelligence and probable protection against obesity and diabetes
  • For moms, protection against breast cancer, improved birth spacing, and possible protection against ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes