Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Massachusetts General Hospital Receives Baby-Friendly Hospital Designation

Recognition emphasizes commitment to providing highest level of breastfeeding care to new mothers

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has been awarded the Baby-Friendly designation from Baby-Friendly USA (BFUSA), a credentialing program for hospitals that is part of an international initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund. The award recognizes the implementation of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” and the “International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes,” which are evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration. This accreditation highlights MGH’s commitment to ensuring that all mothers and their newborns receive the support needed to achieve breastfeeding success.

“This program is designed to support women and teach them tools and techniques they need to accomplish their own feeding goal.” says Lauren Hanley, MD, IBCLC, co-chair of the MGH Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. “Our entire staff has worked diligently to provide education, support and care to new mothers and their babies ensuring they start life on a healthy path. This recognition highlights a hospital-wide commitment to meeting the needs of our patients now and throughout their lives.”

As a Baby-Friendly designated hospital, the MGH ensures that the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” guidelines, including developing a written policy, establishing a post-discharge support group, and limiting pacifier use unless medically indicated are followed. Additionally, as outlined by the “International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes,” the hospital requires parental education about potential hazards and costs associated with artificial milk while restricting sample distribution and product advertising, all aimed at increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates, as recommended by the WHO, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If a woman chooses not to breastfeed, or cannot breastfeed due to medical contraindications, safe formula feeding techniques are taught while skin to skin bonding and rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day – are still recommended.  

In 2011, the MGH began a rigorous evaluation of internal policies and procedures to become only the second Boston hospital to earn the designation from BFUSA. A multidisciplinary team of nurses, midwives, lactation consultants, obstetricians and pediatricians implemented changes to foster increased breastfeeding success. These include rooming-in, using pacifiers only for medical reasons, and practicing skin-to-skin contact in both vaginal and Cesarean birth settings. Clinicians received updated training to fully ensure the multifaceted care plan is effectively followed throughout the entire pregnancy and hospital stay.

BFUSA then conducted a thorough onsite survey of patients and staff in the inpatient and outpatient departments to make certain the MGH successfully met these conditions.

“We want all families to understand the many benefits of breastfeeding and this designation recognizes the many efforts by our staff to provide the education and support needed to make that healthy choice a reality,” says Jeff Ecker, MD, chief of the MGH Obstetrics and Gynecology Department.

To date, only 15.47 percent of births in all U.S. hospitals occur in Baby-Friendly designated facilities. Data shows health benefits for infants who breastfeed and their mothers. Breast-milk contains antibodies and other live cells that lower the rate of ear infections, pneumonia and diarrheal illnesses as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, type I diabetes and obesity. For women, breastfeeding decreases the risk of ovarian and breast cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $800 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular disease, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine. In July 2015, MGH returned into the number one spot on the 2015-16 U.S. News & World Report list of "America's Best Hospitals."

McKenzie Ridings, mridings@partners.org, 617-726-0274

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