Kennedy University Hospital –Washington Township Selected for National Effort to Increase Breastfeeding Rates in US Hospitals
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

babies

Kennedy University Hospital in Washington Township, NJ, 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. Kennedy is the only hospital southern New Jersey chosen to participate in the initiative and one of only two in the entire state of New Jersey.

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.

“Kennedy University Hospital - Washington Township is delighted to have been chosen to participate in this important effort,” said the hospital’s Clinical Director, Frances Cusick, MSN, RN. “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 Kennedy University Hospital - Washington Township, 89 other hospitals nationwide are participating in this initiative and were selected from 235 applicants.  The groups will work together in 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 Kennedy University Hospital- Washington Township and congratulate them on their successful application,” said Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ.

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.