Press Release
August 11, 2006

Breastfeeding bill can save Filipino families P21 billionCayetano

A proposed law that encourages breastfeeding in the workplace and public places can generate savings of up to P21 billion every year for Filipino families who spend on commercial milk formula for their babies.

This is just one of the many benefits of the "Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2006," according to Senate Committee on Health and Demography Chair Senator Pia S. Cayetano.

The senator is scheduled to sponsor the measure in plenary this August to mark National Breastfeeding Month. The bill mandates the establishment of lactation stations in the workplace and public places, and the integration of breastfeeding education into the school curricula as part of a comprehensive campaign to revive breastfeeding.

Citing a study by the World Health Organization (WHO), Cayetano said Filipino families spend up to P21.5 billion every year for breastmilk substitutesor an average of P2,000 per infant per month.

"A family can save a minimum of P2,000 a month, P12,000 in six months and P24,000 in one year of exclusive breastfeeding. Savings could even be higher because the price of commercial milk normally goes up as the child grows older," she said, adding that the amount still does not include the cost of feeding bottles and nipples, and fuel expenses in boiling water and sterilizing the implements.

In contrast, Cayetano said breastfeeding is virtually free, and allows the family to save money that could be spent on other needs like food, health and education.

"The economic and financial advantages are actually among the understated benefits of breastfeeding. In much the same way, many Filipinos have not realized the hidden costs from illnesses caused by unsafe bottle-feeding."

She said 16,000 infant deaths in the country every year had been linked to unsafe bottle-feeding practices in a study by the WHO. The same study shows that a bottle-fed child is 25 more times as likely to die from diarrhea and four times more likely to die from pneumonia than a breastfed infant, mainly due to the use of unsafe water, improper or inadequate sterilization of bottles and nipples.

The bill also provides for an education and information dissemination componentprimarily by integrating lessons on the benefits of breastmilk in the teaching of relevant subjects like health and science in all school levels.

"It must be stressed that not all doctors, pediatricians and obstetricians are supporting breastfeeding. Husbands, relatives, friends and employers can provide a much needed support system for breastfeeding mothers.

"There is a need to correct misconceptions and false information that have influenced a lot of mothers to stop breastfeeding early, or not to try it at all.

"With the support systems in place and with proper information, we will able to encourage all mothers to breastfeed exclusively up to six months, and to continue rearing their child with proper complementary foods up to two years and beyond," she concluded.

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