October 19, 2011

NICHQ to Lead National Initiative to Improve Breastfeeding Rates

Through a CDC Award, NICHQ Will Direct a Hospital Learning Collaborative Project to Boost the Number of US Hospitals Designated as Baby-Friendly

The National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) will lead a nationwide effort to support breastfeeding and increase the number of hospitals with Baby-Friendly designation.

Breastfeeding provides substantial health benefit to both the mother and the infant. Research suggests, for example, that breastfeeding is associated with elevated immunity in children. The environment in which a mother delivers and cares for her infant in his or her first few days of life significantly influences the mother’s choice of whether to start or continue breastfeeding.

The learning collaborative will help hospitals move toward Baby-Friendly status by helping them implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. This is a set of practices, established by The World Health Organization in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, that characterize hospital environments conducive to supporting breastfeeding.

The project will be administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. NICHQ will also work closely with Baby-Friendly USA, the national certifying organization for Baby-Friendly.

The learning collaborative will involve teams from hospitals throughout the country working together with expert faculty over the course of the 3-year project to make significant organizational change using quality improvement methods and measurement to track their progress. Key national leadership organizations will aid in recruitment and provide expertise, and regional coalitions will link participating hospital teams to local resources and develop sustainability plans.

Best practice results will be disseminated to hospitals not participating in the learning collaborative through a state-of–the-art website.

“We know that breastfeeding rates are higher in Baby-Friendly hospitals, yet only 5 percent of babies in this country are born in these facilities,” said William H. Dietz, MD, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. “We need to help hospitals improve their maternity care to better support breastfeeding. This project takes steps to do that, and it offers real solutions to improve the health of mothers and babies.”

“We at NICHQ are thrilled to be able to partner with the CDC on this very exciting initiative,” said NICHQ’s President and CEO Charles Homer, MD, MPH. “Breastfeeding is one of the best ways for an infant to get a healthy start in life. This program continues NICHQ’s focus on applying established improvement methods to address critical challenges at the interface of clinical medicine and public health."

“Numerous studies point to the vital role that hospitals and birth centers play in creating the best environment to successfully establish breastfeeding, “ said Trish MacEnroe, executive director at Baby-Friendly USA. “Breastfeeding is the normal way for babies to be nourished and nurtured. It is the cornerstone of health care reform. Breastmilk contains substances that cannot be reproduced artificially. As a result, infants who are not breastfed are more likely to incur a multitude of health problems that take a human toll and cost our health care system billions of dollars annually. We are excited to be working with NICHQ and the CDC on this project in answering the nation’s call to help hospitals improve their maternity care practices to support better breastfeeding.”

How To Get Involved
Do you or your organization have relevant skills or resources that could help contribute to the success of this project? Then please complete our Project Interest Form! Those who complete the form will be notified when more information about the project specific to their interest becomes available.

Founded in 1999, the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) is an action-oriented organization dedicated to achieving a world in which all children receive the high-quality healthcare they need. Led by experienced pediatric healthcare professionals, NICHQ’s mission is to improve children’s health by improving the systems responsible for the delivery of children’s healthcare. For more information, visit www.nichq.org.

About Baby-Friendly USA
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so. For more information, visit www.babyfriendlyusa.org.