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By Fiona Dykes; Victoria Hall Moran

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5 million lives in 2008 alone (Global Health Network 2008). For example, scaling up programmes dealing with deficiencies in iodine, vitamin A and iron, and adding folate and zinc supplements, to ensure provision for 80% of south Asians and sub-Saharan Africans is estimated to cost about US$347m per year; but it would yield a massive US$5bn from improved future earnings and reduced healthcare spending (Horton & Lomborg 2008). 1 The value of breast milk Speaking of basic commodities, typically countries with large-scale commercial dairy production, for example among the 27 members of the European Union and in Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA, keep close tabs on virtually every drop of bovine milk produced.

Joseph, A. & Reif, S. (2004) Breastfeeding and risk of inflammatory bowel disease: a systematic review with meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80 (5): 1342–1352. , et al. (2008) The roles of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in pregnancy, lactation and infancy: review of current knowledge and consensus recommendations. Journal of Perinatal Medicine, 36 (2): 1– 23. , et al. (2008) Breastfeeding and child cognitive development. New evidence from a large randomized trial.

And as the LLLI and WABA also noted, breastfeeding is inherently environmentally friendly, for example, no manufacturing plants, no intensive use of farmland and no packaging are required. Breastfeeding also helps counteract greenhouse gas emissions generated by the livestock sector, which is a major source of land and water degradation (FAO 2006). 4 Making sound economic sense Ensuring the nutritional status of mothers is an ethical good in its own right. Furthermore, compared with the complex challenge of feeding infants artificially, breastfeeding is easy and inexpensive to do, thereby underwriting mothers’ capacity to directly meet the nurturing and nutritional needs of their children.

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