Four La. hospitals participate in Best Fed Beginnings
Louisiana currently ranks 44th nationally for the percentage of infants who have ever breastfed, according to Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert.
The state is trying to improve those numbers by promoting the Best Fed Beginnings initiative, which allows the DHH to assess the progress made as four area hospitals approach the final phase to become a designated “Baby-Friendly” facility.
Best Fed Beginnings is a National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) breastfeeding quality improvement initiative collaborative to improve maternity care and increase the number of “Baby-Friendly” hospitals in the U.S.
Only 89 hospitals across the country were selected to participate in this initiative, including four Louisiana hospitals: Terrebonne General Medical Center, East Jefferson General Hospital, Tulane Lakeside Hospital and Opelousas General Medical Center.
The initiative began in Oct. 2011 and will culminate in Sept. 2014 with an assessment of each hospital by evaluators from the U.S. accrediting body of the World Health Organization’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Each of the four hospitals has made significant improvements in the number of mothers that receive evidence-based practices such as immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth, no separation of mom and baby throughout the hospital stay and exclusive breastfeeding during the hospital stay.
The DHH Office of Public Health’s Bureau of Family Health is assisting the teams’ participation in this intensive quality improvement collaborative. The Bureau of Family Health has been supporting hospitals’ incremental adoption of similar quality practices through The Gift Program, a hospital designation program that provides a framework and resources to help Louisiana birthing facilities begin the process of improving breastfeeding outcomes. Currently, 24 of 58 delivering facilities are designated through The Gift Program.
The Best Fed Beginnings initiative hopes to increase Louisiana’s breastfeeding rate to reduce the health risks for mothers and children associated with not breastfeeding. Children that are not breastfed have an increased risk of ear infections, gastroenteritis, severe lower respiratory tract infections, eczema, asthma, obesity, types 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Mothers who do not breastfeed experience increased risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, obesity, ovarian cancer, depression and bladder infections. The benefits of breastfeeding are dose-related; the more breast milk a baby receives, the greater the protection for both mother and baby.
All hospitals are encouraged by the state to adopt the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative practices, while the DHH’s The Gift Program is available to help any birthing facility begin its journey to improving quality care through evidence-based practices that are in line with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’s Ten Steps. In addition, the DHH Bureau of WIC/Nutrition Services and Bureau of Family Health programs are partnering to help educate physicians and their staff, located in the Best Fed Beginnings communities, through an office based quality improvement program that will consist of free one and a half hour sessions.
For more information about DHH initiatives, please visit www.dhh.la.gov or contact the Bureau of Family Health at 504-568-3504.
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