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A brief economic evaluation of breastfeeding in Australia

  • Njoto, Edwin Nugroho
  • Djaputra, Edith Maria
  • Pardosi, Jerico Franciscus
Publication Date
May 17, 2018
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive


According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013), in 2013 the percentage of exclusive breastfeeding for six months was less than one-fifth of the overall rate of breastfeeding initiation, which was related to socioeconomic status. This paper discusses the expenses related to breastfeeding and the reasons that the Australian Government should prolong the duration of the paid parental leave scheme to support exclusive breastfeeding. The literature for this systematic review was drawn from MEDLINE, Scopus, Google Scholar and various reports by agencies of the Australian Government. The inclusion criteria were based on the economic benefits of breastfeeding, the costs related to diseases caused by premature weaning and other financial factors. The selected previous studies were analysed to present a narrative review of the key themes. Sixteen studies and reports were selected from 144 sources. The findings of the review showed that in Australia, the total potential economic cost to individual income of the time spent on exclusive breastfeeding was approximately A$611.49 million (A$31,498.80 per mother per six months). However, in 2002, the short-term cost savings was A$60 million. The total cost savings would be higher if other expenses in long-term premature weaning were calculated based on current value. Based on the findings of this literature review, the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh its costs. The findings suggest that the Australian Government should consider an additional financial incentive for breastfeeding mothers in order to reduce the gap between the proportion of exclusive breastfeeding mothers and better newborn health outcomes.

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