The IRS is handing out a new tax break (not exactly a credit) for breast feeding mothers. Yep, you heard that right, the IRS wants to make sure that your children are getting ample time to breastfeed. Days after the IRS decision, many are calling it an excellent victory for public health. The first lady will give a speech today on this very topic.
But why? Well, according to new research, children who breastfeed are significantly less likely to become obese. And since we have that correlation, we apparently now have causation for obesity and generally poor health: not enough time with mom.
Other research suggests that the United States would save $13 Billion annually if 90% of new mothers were to breast feed their children for at least six months.
Why Breastfed Kids Are Healthier
I have my own explanation for the difference in health between kids that are breastfed for six months and those who aren’t breastfed:
- Children who have been breastfeeding for at least six months are healthier because they have insanely “by-the-book” mothers.
- A mom with that much time to breastfeed also has enough time and/or money to provide the best health care, or additional capacity to teach her children about healthy eating habits.
The study was not randomized, nor did it account for any differences in income between mothers. The study also failed to offset any health savings with the additional costs of breastfeeding. For the purposes of public policy and rational economics the study (it’s from Harvard, by the way) is worthless.
Of course, that also means it is perfect for government. And so it was, enjoy your new breastfeeding tax break. The tax benefit isn’t freestanding; it will be part of the existing itemized medical expenses credit, amid other changes to FSA programs.
However, such qualification also means that flexible spending account funds can be spent on breast feeding supplies. That means more money on breastfeeding, more money in corporate pockets. I wonder who chartered this study, after all.