Pennsylvania Hospital Selected for Effort to Increase Breastfeeding Rates in U.S. Hospitals

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Media Contact:Olivia Fermano | Olivia.Fermano@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-829-6799July 24, 2012

Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH) has been selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a first-of-its-kind national effort to significantly improve breastfeeding rates in states where rates are currently the lowest.

Although breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, half of US-born babies are given formula within the first week, and by nine months, only 31 percent of babies are breastfeeding at all. Together, PAH and Best Fed Beginnings seek to reverse these trends by dramatically increasing the number of US hospitals implementing a proven model for maternity services that better supports a new mother's choice to breastfeed. The National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) is leading the effort through a cooperative funding agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and working closely with Baby-Friendly USA, Inc.

"Pennsylvania Hospital is delighted to have been chosen to participate in this initiative and to have this opportunity to better support breastfeeding families. This is an important public health initiative that will bring a tremendous benefit to Philadelphia's mother and babies." said Debi Page Ferrarello, RN, MS, IBCLC, director of Family Education at PAH. "We recognize the hospital experience strongly influences a mother's ability to start and continue breastfeeding and are committed to implementing evidence-based care through the Baby-Friendly designation process. This will ensure that mothers delivering in our facility who intend to breastfeed are fully supported."

In addition to PAH, 89 other hospitals are participating in this initiative and were selected from 235 applicants. The groups will work together in a 22-month learning collaborative, using proven quality improvement methods to transform their maternity care services in pursuit of a "Baby-Friendly" designation. This designation verifies that a hospital has comprehensively implemented the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as established in the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Breastfeeding rates are higher and disparities in these rates are virtually eliminated in hospitals that achieve this status.

"We look forward to working with Pennsylvania Hospital and congratulate them on their successful application," said Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ. "The large number of applications we receive affirms the commitment of hospitals across our country to be part of a health care system that truly focuses on promoting health for women and infants. We are especially pleased that we received so many applications from hospitals in states where there are so few facilities with Baby-Friendly designation and from hospitals that serve populations of women who now are much less likely to breastfeed."

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