Coronavirus is not our gravest health concern.

Research out of the journal of Health Policy and Planning (vol. 34, issue 6) presents compelling data reminding us that even in the midst of a global pandemic, we face sustained and unrelenting global health challenges. While the impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching and what many might call devastating, it is not unique in this regard.

The data and predictive models used by these researchers shows that upward of 595,379 childhood deaths each year can be attributed to not breastfeeding, according to the global recommendations from World Health Organization and UNICEF.

They also estimate that "974,956 cases of childhood obesity can be attributed to not breastfeeding according to recommendations each year. For women, breastfeeding is estimated to have the potential to prevent 98,243 deaths from breast and ovarian cancers as well as type II diabetes each year."

They go on to explain, "The Lancet Series on Breastfeeding estimated that >800,000 child deaths globally and cognitive losses totaling US $302 billion per year were attributable to not breastfeeding."

Coronavirus is a real and serious concern, but for those of us promoting the WHO/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and supporting national and global policy for the sake of saving "just one life," we might ought to consider what other changes we could make in pursuit of that goal.

We could start by thinking about how we feed our children.

Rebecca Patton


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