Background: Breastfeeding is associated with lower risk of infectious diseases, leading to fewer hospital admissions and pediatrician consultations. It is cost saving for the health care system, however, it is not usually estimated from actual cohorts but via simulation studies. Methods: A cohort of 970 children was followed-up for twelve months. Data on mother characteristics, pregnancy, delivery and neonate characteristics were obtained from medical records. The type of neonate feeding at discharge, 2, 4, 6, 9 and 12 months of life was reported by the mothers. Infectious diseases diagnosed in the first year of life, hospital admissions, primary care and emergency room consultations and drug treatments were obtained from neonate medical records. Health care costs were attributed using public prices and All Patients Refined–Diagnosis Related Groups (APR–DRG) classification. Results: Health care costs in the first year of life were higher in children artificially fed than in those breastfed (1339.5€, 95% confidence interval (CI): 903.0–1775.0 for artificially fed vs. 443.5€, 95% CI: 193.7–694.0 for breastfed). The breakdown of costs also shows differences in primary care consultations (295.7€ for formula fed children vs. 197.9€ for breastfed children), emergency room consultations (260.1€ for artificially fed children vs. 196.2€ for breastfed children) and hospital admissions (791.6€ for artificially fed children vs. 86.9€ for breastfed children). Conclusions: Children artificially fed brought about more health care costs related to infectious diseases than those exclusively breastfed or mixed breastfed. Excess costs were caused in hospital admissions, primary care consultations, emergency room consultations and drug consumption.
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