Breastfeeding Rates: Barnes-Jewish Part of National Effort

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital selected for Best Fed Beginnings, a national effort to improve breastfeeding rates.

Barnes-Jewish is part of the baby-friendly hospital initiative Best Fed Beginnings

Barnes-Jewish is part of the baby-friendly hospital initiative Best Fed Beginnings

“This is a fantastic opportunity to improve our women and infants services to better support breastfeeding in the St. Louis community,” says Carol Scott, RN, director of women and infants at Barnes-Jewish.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital 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.

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.

During the next 18 months, Barnes-Jewish will be working to become a baby-friendly hospital through participation in the baby-friendly hospital initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund to encourage and recognize hospitals and birth centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding. In addition to Barnes-Jewish, 89 other hospitals are participating in this initiative.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to improve our women and infants services to better support breastfeeding in the St. Louis community,” says Carol Scott, RN, director of women and infants at Barnes-Jewish. “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 hospital who intend to breast-feed are fully supported.”

In 2011, 64.2 percent of new moms report attempting breastfeeding in Missouri, while 70.6 percent of Illinois moms breast-fed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Breastfeeding Report Card. At Barnes-Jewish, the breastfeeding rate is approximately 49 percent.

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.

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Jason Merrill
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