A systematic review of costing studies for implementing and scaling-up breastfeeding interventions: What do we know and what are the gaps?

Grace Carroll, Cara Safon, Gabriela Buccini, Mireya Vilar-Compte, Graciela Teruel, Rafael Pérez-Escamilla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Despite the well-established evidence that breastfeeding improves maternal and child health outcomes, global rates of exclusive breastfeeding remain low. Cost estimates can inform stakeholders about the financial resources needed to scale up interventions to ultimately improve breastfeeding outcomes in low-, middle- and high-income countries. To inform the development of comprehensive costing frameworks, this systematic review aimed to (1) identify costing studies for implementing or scaling-up breastfeeding interventions, (2) assess the quality of identified costing studies and (3) examine the availability of cost data to identify gaps that need to be addressed through future research. Peer-reviewed and grey literature were systematically searched using a combination of index terms and relevant text words related to cost and the following breastfeeding interventions: breastfeeding counselling, maternity leave, the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, media promotion, workplace support and pro-breastfeeding social policies. Data were extracted after having established inter-rater reliability among the first two authors. The quality of studies was assessed using an eight-item checklist for key costing study attributes. Forty-five studies met the inclusion criteria, with the majority including costs for breastfeeding counselling and paid maternity leave. Most cost analyses included key costing study attributes; however, major weaknesses among the studies were the lack of clarity on costing perspectives and not accounting for the uncertainty of reported cost estimates. Costing methodologies varied substantially, standardized costing frameworks are needed for reliably estimating the costs of implementing and scaling-up breastfeeding interventions at local-, national- or global-levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-501
Number of pages41
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - 19 Feb 2020


  • Breastfeeding
  • cost analysis
  • costing
  • infant and young child feeding


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