Regions part of national initiative to increase breastfeeding rates
ST. PAUL, Minn. – June 27, 2012 – Regions Hospital is one of 90 hospitals nationwide selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a national effort to significantly improve breastfeeding rates. 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. In Minnesota, less than half (45 percent) of babies are exclusively breastfeeding at age three months, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Best Fed Beginnings, led by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seeks to reverse these trends.
“This initiative is important because research shows that the hospital experience can strongly influence a mother’s ability to start and continue breastfeeding,” said Julie Thompson Larson, director of nursing for Regions Hospital Birth Center.
Regions and 89 other hospitals will work in a 22-month long learning collaborative in pursuit of “Baby-Friendly” designation. This designation verifies that a hospital has implemented the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as established in the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
“We received 235 applications for the Best Fed Beginnings project which affirms the commitment of hospitals to promote health for women and infants,” said Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ.
Breastfeeding has multiple health benefits including decreasing the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, reducing infant mortality, and decreasing 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.
Regions Hospital is a Level I Trauma Center for adults and for children serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin for more than 130 years. A private, nonprofit, teaching hospital, Regions (www.regionshospital.com) provides outstanding care in women’s health, heart, cancer, surgery, orthopaedics, neuroscience, burn, emergency care, mental illnesses and more. Regions is part of the HealthPartners (www.healthpartners.com) family of health care companies that serves 1.4 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide. Follow Regions Hospital at twitter.com/RegionsHospital and www.facebook.com/home.php?#/regionshospital.