A new study in the May issue of the Journal of Human Lactation reports that being born in a Baby-Friendly hospital gives babies the best possible chance of breastfeeding to 6 months. This is particularly true for low-income populations and for families from backgrounds that traditionally have low breastfeeding rates.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other respected groups recommend that babies breastfeed exclusively until six months of age. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was established by WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to help the participating hospitals become centers of breastfeeding support.
The research published by SAGE in the Journal of Human Lactation, for the International Lactation Consultant Association, studied breastfeeding rates among babies who were born in an inner-city US Baby-Friendly hospital. They looked at the factors influencing a mother's decision to begin to breastfeed while in the hospital and what influenced whether that baby was still being nursed at six months old.
The study found that the rates of breastfeeding at six months was decreased for families with public insurance or if there was an early feeding problem. And although other studies have concluded that demographics usually factor into poor breastfeeding duration rates in low-income, black populations, this study found that those mothers who gave birth in a Baby-Friendly hospital breastfed at rates comparable to the overall US population, suggesting that the Baby-Friendly initiatives were positively affecting the health of those babies.
"Interventions to improve breastfeeding rates at 6 months should include postpartum breastfeeding support and education," summarized the authors, Anne Merewood, MPH, IBCLC, Birva Patel, BS, MA, Kimberly Niles Newton, MPH, Lindsay P. MacAuley, MPH, Laura Beth Chamberlain, BA, IBCLC, Patricia Francisco, and Supriya D. Mehta, MHS, PhD, in the article's conclusion. "Further research is needed to determine the effect of Baby-Friendly status on breastfeeding duration in US hospitals serving alternative populations."
Article: "Breastfeeding Duration Rates and Factors Affecting Continued Breastfeeding Among Infants Born at an Inner-City US Baby-Friendly Hospital" May 2007, Journal of Human Lactation.
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