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IRS Not In Support Of Breastfeeding Mothers

Check this out from The New York Times:

“Despite a growing body of research indicating that the antibodies passed from mother to child in breast milk could reduce disease among infants — including one recent study that found it could prevent the premature death of 900 babies a year — the I.R.S. has denied a request from the American Academy of Pediatrics to reclassify breast-feeding costs as a medical care expense.”

LAME.

So you can write off the cost of your cosmetic denture adhesives and zit cream, but not the breast pump of other nursing supplies. According to the Times, the I.R.S. has ruled that “breast-feeding does not have enough health benefits to quality as a form of medical care.”

New rules go into effect in January that will allow millions of Americans to set aside some of their pretax earnings to use for unreimbursed medical expenses. But breastfeeding accoutrements didn’t make the cut. Which is weird because this whole health overhaul is supposedly all about preventative medicine.

As the Times points out, a recent Harvard Medical School study concluded that if 90% of babies were breastfed exclusively breastfed for six months (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics), the US would save $13 billion a year. And the death of 900 babies each year from respiratory and other infections would also be prevented. That’s a lot of preventative medicine.

But the I.R.S. considers breast milk a nutritional perk like fresh food– not in the realm of healthcare. Under the new law, women will be legally permitted to take pumping breaks at work. That’s good. But those pumps are not cheap. The hospital grade ones can cost over a thousand dollars for a working mother. The regular ones are several hundred. Apparently pediatricians can sometimes write a note saying that the pump is medically necessary and that will be enough to get your gear via the pre-tax spending account.

I don’t know. I think breastfeeding should be supported in all kind of ways, no questions asked. It’s good for the baby’s health and good for mom’s health and it’s not always easy.

photo: planet-oleary/flickr

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