Social Value of Breastfeeding at Work

2022 20 Projects FLRF

FLRF and Yale University launched the Social Value of Breastfeeding and Breastmilk at the Workplace project in 2019 to explore social and economic benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk at the workplace.

As breastfeeding is increasingly recognized for optimal health and development, research and interventions to improve breastfeeding outcomes have also increased – though they focus mainly on biology and medicine or knowledge implementation. To date, very little research has been conducted on the social benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk.

Led by PhD Student Kathrin Litwan at the Yale School of Public Health, this project aims to build the knowledge base to better understand the program impact pathways of workplace breastfeeding interventions and their potential social value. Further, it seeks to create clarity about the value – or ‘returns’ for society – generated by breastfeeding and breastmilk from working mothers.

The ability to estimate the social benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk, and the cost-effectiveness of related interventions, could become an important tool to provide additional guidance to policymakers during their decision-making processes.

About workplace breastfeeding interventions

Litwan K, Lara-Mejía V, Chahine T, Hernández‐Cordero S, Vilar‐Compte M, Pérez‐Escamilla R. An analysis of actors participating in the design and implementation of workplace breastfeeding interventions in Mexico using the NetMap analysis approach. Frontiers in Public Health [Internet]. 2023 Nov 8 [cited 2024 Jan 22];11. Available from:

Vilar-Compte M., Hernández-Cordero S., Ancira-Moreno M., Burrola-Méndez S., Ferre-Eguiluz I., Omaña I., et al. Breastfeeding at the workplace: a systematic review of interventions to improve workplace environments to facilitate breastfeeding among working women. Int J Equity Health. 2021;20(1):110.

Taylor Yhenneko J., Scott Victoria C., Danielle Connor C. Perceptions, Experiences, and Outcomes of Lactation Support in the Workplace: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of human lactation: official journal of International Lactation Consultant Association. 2020(ae1, 8709498):890334420930696.

Tang Xueying, Patterson Peta, MacKenzie-Shalders Kristen, van Herwerden Louise A., Bishop Jo, Rathbone Evelyne, et al. Workplace programmes for supporting breast-feeding: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Public Health Nutrition. 2020:1-13.

Dinour L. M., Szaro J. M. Employer-Based Programs to Support Breastfeeding Among Working Mothers: A Systematic Review. Breastfeed Med. 2017;12:131-41.

About the social value of specific breastfeeding interventions

Hernández-Cordero S, Vilar-Compte M, Litwan K, Lara-Mejía V, Rovelo-Velázquez N, Ancira-Moreno M et al. Implementation of Breastfeeding Policies at Workplace in Mexico: Analysis of Context Using a Realist Approach. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022;19(4):2315. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph19042315

Goudet S., Griffiths P. L., Wainaina C. W., Macharia T. N., Wekesah F. M., Wanjohi M., et al. Social value of a nutritional counselling and support program for breastfeeding in urban poor settings, Nairobi. BMC Public Health. 2018;18(1):424.

Pramono A., Smith J., Desborough J., Bourke S. Social value of maintaining baby-friendly hospital initiative accreditation in Australia: case study. Int J Equity Health. 2021;20(1):22.

Hanafin Sinead, O’Dwyer Kieran, Creedon Mary, Clune Mulvaney Catherine. Social Return on Investment: PHN-facilitated breastfeeding groups in Ireland. Research Matters Ltd; 2018.

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