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Breastfeeding Savings Calculator

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Research Project

Who funded the research?

The research was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Can other researcher use the models developed during the project?

Currently, the research team is working on making the models available for use by other researchers. If you are interested in use of the model, please contact us at

About the Calculator

How were variables defined in the model?

The variables in the model were defined using existing definitions and rates for breastfeeding, disease rates, and costs in the published literature or government reports.

What was the discount rate?

A 2% discount rate was used to calculate future costs.

What did the cost calculator assume when breastfeeding % changes occurred?
The calculator assumes that later BF rates (e.g. exclusivity at 3 months) cannot exceed earlier BF rates (e.g. exclusivity in hospital) For example: breastfeeding exclusively at 3 months cannot be 90% if breastfeeding exclusively in hospital is 80%. Further, the calculator assumes that there is a linear drop off between time points. The calculator also assumes that 100% of women who did initiate breastfeeding have the potential to continue to provide at least some of their infant’s feedings through 18 months of age. The actual number of women still breastfeeding at any time point is dependent on the number of women breastfeeding at the closest preceding time point and the proportion of women that continued from the starting time  point (e.g. 12 months) to the next time point (e.g. 18 months) using 2012 rates and rate changes over time as the referent.

Can I set my baseline breastfeeding rates in the calculator to different values?

Users can choose to set their baseline breastfeeding rates to the US 2012 or US 2014 breastfeeding rates. Users should determine which baseline would most accurately capture their need for cost savings estimates. Customized baseline rates are not currently available but the team is working on providing that option in the future.

Why are the values I generated in the online calculator different from what I read in the published paper or from a previous calculator use?

There are two main reasons why the values you may have generated are different from those in the published paper or from a previous use.

First, in the initial online preview of the calculator paper and unveiling of the online tool, there was frame shift error that was undetected. This error involved a carry-over of some incorrect values for any breastfeeding, specifically for the US as a whole at 6 months and for a few states at 6 and 12 months. Those errors were corrected which means that the estimates also were corrected. The rate errors did not change the nature of the findings or the direction of the results. They did change some of the values. For example compared to US 2012 rate, if we achieved HP 2020 goals, the number of cases of otitis media saved was originally reported as 49,693 cases, 95% CI: 25,669-79,635) but should have been reported as 49,642 cases, 95% CI: 25,619 — 79,584. This error would only impact calculator uses prior to October 12, 2017.

Second, the calculator allows users to select baseline and future values. In the initial calculator offering, the user could only select 2012 as the baseline. The user can now select either 2012 or 2014. The published paper uses US 2012 as the baseline. The user also can select the future rates - HP 2020 goals, 90%, 80%, or a user custom designed value. The published paper used all of these options with each comparison specified in the text. Thus if a user chooses a different baseline or future rate, their estimates may differ from previous uses or from the published paper.