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We don’t have to tell our savvy readers that breast is best, so long as it works out for mommy and baby. It could also be better for the rest of us; a study reported in Time says more moms breastfeeding could save the United States billions of dollars on healthcare.

How exactly does it work? Breastfeeding is healthier for mothers, too:

If new moms adhered to the recommended guidelines that urge them to breast-feed each child they give birth to for at least one year, they could theoretically stave off up to 5,000 cases of breast cancer, about 54,000 cases of hypertension and nearly 14,000 heart attacks annually.

With those cases avoided, there would be an estimated $860 billion of healthcare costs that wouldn’t have to be spent. Researchers ran a simulation that used current rates for breastfeeding, or 25 percent of women and then compared it to the healthcare costs that would exist if 90 percent of women breastfed for the recommended amount of time.

Doctors are more concerned with the importance of nursing for women and their babies than with nailing down an exact number of dollars that will be saved. They hope their research will urge hospitals, doctors and employers to really give their mothers the support they need so they can breastfeed for the ideal 12 months. Said one of the lead authors of the study, “This points out that breast-feeding is not a lifestyle choice; it’s a public-health imperative.”

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