Cost-effectiveness evidence for strategies to promote or support breastfeeding: a systematic review

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Global health policy recommends exclusive breastfeeding until infants are 6 months. Little is known about the cost-effectiveness of breastfeeding promotion strategies. This paper presents a systematic search and narrative review of economic evaluations of strategies to support or promote breastfeeding. The aim of the review is to bring together current knowledge to guide researchers and commissioners towards potentially cost-effective strategies to promote or support breastfeeding.

Searches were conducted of electronic databases, including MEDLINE and Scopus, for economic evaluations relevant to breastfeeding, published up to August 2019. Records were screened against pre-specified inclusion/exclusion criteria and quality was assessed using a published checklist. Costs reported in included studies underwent currency conversion and inflation to a single year and currency so that they could be compared. The review protocol was registered on the PROSPERO register of literature reviews (ID, CRD42019141721).

There were 212 non-duplicate citations. Four were included in the review, which generally indicated that interventions were cost-effective. Two studies reported that breastfeeding promotion for low-birth weight babies in critical care is associated with lower costs and greater health benefits than usual care and so is likely to be cost-effective. Peer-support for breastfeeding was associated with longer duration of exclusivity with costs ranging from £19–£107 per additional month (two studies).

There is limited published evidence on the cost-effectiveness of strategies to promote breastfeeding, although the quality of the current evidence is reasonably high. Future studies should integrate evaluations of the effectiveness of strategies with economic analyses.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2020


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