New research has linked the nation's chronic disease burden with the absence of breastfeeding.
Thirty per cent of people aged between 35 and 40 were not breastfed as babies.
The Australian National University research assessed the outcomes of dozens of existing studies, with the aim of explaining what factors trigger chronic diseases such as diabetes, digestive diseases and heart problems.
Researcher Dr Julie Smith says she found adults who were prematurely weaned as infants are more likely to suffer in the long term, compared to those who were breastfed.
"The risk associated with lack of breastfeeding in infancy was 30 per higher for many conditions compared to breastfed infants," she said.
Dr Smith says mothers need more support in hospital and the community.
She is challenging federal, state and territory governments to do more to ensure breastfeeding is a realistic choice for mothers.
"The universal health recommendation is around six months of exclusive breast feeding," she said."With only half of women in Australia even making six months of breastfeeding, we have got a considerable way to go to make it possible for many women. Sometimes that is about parental leave."