Summary

Breastfeeding can provide important health and financial benefits for new families. But insufficient healthcare coverage, underlying medical conditions, and economic obstacles can make breastfeeding difficult or impossible for many parents. In this memo, a three-pronged approach is proposed—facilitated by an interagency collaboration through the National Advisory Council on Maternal, Infant, and Fetal Nutrition—to transform infant nutrition. First, to increase breastfeeding rates in the United States, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should alter reimbursement policy by reimbursing tele-lactation and nutrition support for all babies covered under Medicaid. Second, the government should partner with the private sector to launch a “Synthesizing Human Milk Grand Innovation Challenge” to catalyze new extramural R&D and innovation efforts to accelerate commercialization of breast-milk alternatives for those that cannot breastfeed. And finally, the government should enact paid parental leave policies to give parents financial flexibility and dedicated time after birth to breastfeed.