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Natural Awakenings

Bundled Deductibles: Breast-feeding Benefits Now Recognized by the IRS

Apr 13, 2011 07:21PM

Until its 2011 announcement for the 2010 tax year, the Internal Revenue Service did not classify breast-feeding supplies as tax deductible because it viewed them as nutritional benefits, instead of medical care expenses. Now, under a new ruling, nursing mothers can write off breast-feeding equipment if they have flexible spending accounts or if their total medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income.

U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin has issued a call to action to support breast-feeding, stating that it can protect babies from infections and illnesses, including pneumonia and diarrhea. Breast-fed babies are also less likely to develop asthma and to become obese, according to the report. First Lady Michelle Obama has declared her support for breast-feeding as part of her campaign against child obesity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has spent years trying to roll back the push for infant formula, trumpeting the benefits of breast-feeding exclusively for the first six months of life (the World Health Organization promotes breast-feeding for two years). A recent Harvard Medical School study published in the journal Pediatrics estimated that if 90 percent of American women breast-fed, 900 premature infant deaths would be prevented and patients and hospitals would see savings of $13 billion in lost wages and saved health care costs.

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