University Health System Selected for Unprecedented National Effort to Increase Breastfeeding Rates in US Hospitals
Joins Exclusive Group of Hospitals Transforming Maternity Care Services in States with Low Breastfeeding Rates
University Health System announced today that it 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 9 months, only 31% of babies are breastfeeding at all. Best Fed Beginnings seeks 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 will be working closely with Baby-Friendly USA, Inc.
“University Hospital is delighted to have been chosen to participate in this important effort and to have the opportunity to improve our maternity care services to better support breastfeeding,” said George B. Hernández, Jr., president/CEO, University Health System. “We recognize that for women who plan to breastfeed, the hospital experience strongly influences a mother’s ability to start and continue breastfeeding. We 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 University Hospital, 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 “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 University Health System and congratulate them on their successful application,” said Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ. “The large number of applications we received 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.”
Breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for both infants and mothers. For infants, it decreases the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, reduces infant mortality, and optimally supports neurodevelopment. It also decreases infants’ risk of becoming obese later in childhood. For mothers, breastfeeding decreases the risks of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Click here for a list of the 90 hospitals selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings.
About University Health System
Owned by the taxpayers of Bexar County, University Health System is a nationally recognized academic medical center and network of outpatient health centers. In partnership with The University of Texas Health Science Center School of Medicine, University Health System is consistently recognized as a leader for going paperless with electronic medical records. It is the first public health system in Texas to be designated as Magnet Hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. University Hospital, its 498-bed acute care hospital, was named Best Regional Hospital U.S. News & World Report in 2011-2012 and is one of just 15 Level I trauma centers in Texas. University Health System’s Community First Health Plans is the region’s only locally-owned, nonprofit HMO and San Antonio AirLIFE, jointly owned by University Health System, is a national leader in emergency air medical transport. For more, please go online at UniversityHealthSystem.com.
About the CDC
CDC works 24/7 saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money through prevention. Whether these threats are global or domestic, chronic or acute, curable or preventable, natural disaster or deliberate attack, CDC is the nation’s health protection agency.
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 and mother-baby bonding. 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.