The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a ruling stating that breast pumps and other breastfeeding supplies are not subject to the tax breaks offered for other medical expenses. However, the IRS will not recognize the cost of breastfeeding supplies to be eligible for these tax breaks, despite the fact that costs for products such as acne medications and denture adhesives are eligible for the exemptions, the New York Times reports. According to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, breastfeeding expenses can cost mothers between $500 and $1,000 annually.
The ruling denies the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) request that the IRS consider costs related to breastfeeding as medical care expenses on the grounds that the IRS believes breastfeeding does not provide sufficient health benefits, the New York Times reports.
Breastfeeding advocates and the AAP have emphasized the preventative health benefits of breastfeeding, backed by recent research. According to a study published in April of this year, breastfeeding will prevent more than 900 infant deaths each year and will save an additional $13 billion in health care costs. The risk of infant death due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections such as pneumonia, and necrotizing enterocolitis is nearly eliminated if mothers breastfeed their infants until at least six months after birth. In addition, the US Department of Health and Human Services reports that breastfed infants have a lower risk of contracting ear infections, stomach viruses, atopic dermatitis, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and other health problems. Mothers also benefit from a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression (PPD).
Women can ask their doctors for a document stating that breastfeeding is medically necessary if they want to try to use their tax-exempt healthcare account to cover breastfeeding, reports the New York Times.
Media Resources: New York Times 10/26/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/6/10