Hospital Support for Breastfeeding Shows Improvement
October 8, 2015 -2:24 AM
Hospital support for breastfeeding has improved since 2007, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs
report released today. The percentage of U.S. hospitals using a
majority of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the global
standard for hospital care to support breastfeeding, increased from
approximately 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013, a nearly
two-fold increase over six years. Improved hospital care could increase
rates of breastfeeding nationwide and contribute to healthier children.
“Breastfeeding has immense health benefits for babies and their
mothers,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “More hospitals
are better supporting new moms to breastfeed -- every newborn should
have the best possible start in life.”
Of the nearly four million babies born each year in the U.S., 14
percent are born in Baby-Friendly hospitals, a number that has nearly
tripled in recent years, but remains low. The Baby-Friendly Hospital
Initiative (BFHI) was established by the World Health Organization and
UNICEF and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The core of
the BFHI is the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
“What happens in the hospital can determine whether a mom starts and
continues to breastfeed, and we know that many moms – 60 percent – stop
breastfeeding earlier than they’d like,” said Cria Perrine, PhD,
epidemiologist in CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and
Obesity. “These improvements in hospital support for breastfeeding are
promising, but we also want to see more hospitals fully supporting
mothers who want to breastfeed. The Ten Steps help ensure that mothers
get the best start with breastfeeding.”
(Image Provided by the Centers for Disease Control)
Findings from CDC’s Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care Survey
This Vital Signs report examined data from CDC’s national survey,
Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC), which measures
the percentage of U.S. hospitals with practices that are consistent
with the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. The Ten Steps are
measures of a hospital’s breastfeeding support before, during, and after
a mother’s hospital stay. Some of the steps include:
Educate all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
Keep mothers and babies together throughout the entire hospital stay.
Provide mothers with information about breastfeeding support groups
and refer mothers to these groups upon discharge from the hospital.
Other encouraging findings from the report include:
Across all survey years, hospital staff provided high levels of:
prenatal breastfeeding education (91 percent in 2007 and 93 percent in 2013) and
teaching mothers breastfeeding techniques (88 percent in 2007 and 92 percent in 2013).
Early initiation of breastfeeding increased from approximately 44 percent in 2007 to nearly 65 percent in 2013.
Other mPINC data show why continued improvement is needed:
In 2013, just 26 percent of hospitals ensured that only breast milk
was given to healthy, breastfeeding infants who did not need infant
formula for a medical reason.
In 2013, only 45 percent of hospitals kept mothers and babies
together throughout the entire hospital stay, which provides
opportunities to breastfeed and helps mothers learn feeding cues.
In 2013, only 32 percent of hospitals provided enough support for
breastfeeding mothers when they left the hospital, including a follow-up
visit and phone call, and referrals for additional support.
There are specific actions hospitals can take to better support mothers to breastfeed. These actions include:
Implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and work towards achieving Baby-Friendly status.
Use CDC’s Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care survey
customized reports to improve maternity care practices that support
Work with doctors, nurses, lactation care providers, and
organizations to create networks that provide clinic-based, at-home, or
community breastfeeding support for mothers.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding
There are many health benefits to breastfeeding. Babies that are
breastfed have reduced risks for ear, respiratory, stomach and
intestinal infections. They also are at lower risk of asthma, obesity,
and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Pre-term infants are at a
particularly high risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that
affects the stomach and intestinal tract; breastfeeding can protect
infants from this disease.
Also, mothers that breastfeed are less likely to get breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Breastfeeding also saves money. More than $2 billion in yearly
medical costs for children could be saved if breastfeeding
recommendations were met.
Vital Signs is a CDC report that appears on the first Tuesday of the
month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The report provides the latest data and information on key health
indicators. These are cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor
vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol
use, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen
pregnancy, food safety and viral hepatitis.
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