width=277According to the findings of an American study published yesterday, boosting the percentage of infants who were breastfed for the first six months of life could actually save lives.

The research suggests that in the US the lives of 911 babies could be saved each year if the percentage of mothers who breastfed their infants for the first six months of life rose from about 43 percent to 90 percent.

Young Luciana Rosa has been breastfed since she was born in late January. Her mother, Rita intends to continue until Luciana is at least six months old, if not a year.

Her experience, which she admits has been free of the problems some breastfeeding mothers endure, is one that health professionals worldwide wants more mothers to share.

I thought it's a good way to bond with the baby. My mother did it too and I think there are benefits to it she said.

I want to breastfeed for as long as I can, the first time mother from Taylors Hill in Melbourne's north-west said yesterday.

While 30 year old Mrs Rosa said she was aware of the health benefits breastfeeding can bring for mother and infant, she said the main reason she chose to breastfed was to cement the bond with her new daughter.

Her experience, which she admits has been free of the problems that some breastfeeding mothers endure, is one which health professionals worldwide want more mothers to share.

Increasing the breastfeeding rate would also save $US 13 billion ($A14.1 billion) a year in medical cost, the study found.

Researchers also conducted a cost analysis of the frequency of 10 common childhood illnesses and the direct cost associated with treating those diseases, as well as indirect cost such as missed time from work.

About 18 percent of Australian mothers are still breastfeeding their infants at six months of age, a figure that many health organization want to be increased.

While major health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Health and Medical Research Council recommend babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months.

Dr. Rod Hunt, from the neonatal medicine department at the Royal children's Hospital said the overwhelming evidence was that breastfeeding was a benefits to both mother and child.

Lead author of the paper Melissa Bartick from Harvard Medical School said the health benefits have been vastly under-appreciated.