Breastfeeding Measures Added to Maternity Information

New York Notes 10 Hospitals Statewide Have Higher Breastfeeding Rates

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 13, 2010) - State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., announced today that new information on the proportion of newborns who are breastfed will now be provided by every hospital to expectant mothers when they attend prenatal classes, pre-register or are admitted to the hospital.

Commissioner Daines also congratulated ten high-performing New York hospitals with the highest percentage of newborn infants exclusively breastfed during their hospital stay:

  • Northern Dutchess Hospital (Dutchess County)
  • Community Memorial Hospital Inc. (Madison County)
  • Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital (Erie County)
  • F.F. Thompson Hospital (Ontario County)
  • Cayuga Medical center (Tompkins County)
  • Phelps Memorial Hospital Association (Westchester County)
  • White Plains Hospital Center (Westchester County)
  • Northern Westchester Hospital (Westchester County)
  • NYU Hospital Center (New York City)
  • Lenox Hill Hospital (New York City)

To promote breastfeeding, information on the proportion of infants who breastfeed at all (including those who are also fed formula) and the proportion who breastfeed exclusively (with no formula supplementation) for each hospital will be provided to expectant mothers. This information is also posted on the State Department of Health's (DOH) Web site at http://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/hospital/maternity/

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended to promote optimal health of both mother and baby. Supplementing breastfed newborn infants with formula is not recommended unless it is medically necessary. Infants who are supplemented with formula during their hospital stay are only 50 percent as likely to be still breastfeeding at six weeks of age, compared to infants who are exclusively breastfed in the hospital.

"We want hospitals' maternity care policies and practices to support and protect new mothers in exclusively breastfeeding their infants while they are in the hospital and to continue to promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for babies' first six months of life," Dr. Daines said.

In New York, 81 percent of new mothers choose to breastfeed, but by three months just 33 percent of mothers continue to breastfeed exclusively; and by six months, that percentage drops to 14 percent. Hospital maternity care policies and procedures, staff training, and the quality of support and assistance provided to new mothers play a powerful role in affecting breastfeeding rates in the hospital and after discharge.

This is part of DOH's larger effort to promote breastfeeding as a healthy choice for mothers and babies.

In August 2009, Dr. Daines issued a call to action, asking health care providers, hospitals, communities and employers to implement evidence-based policies and practices shown to increase breastfeeding.

"Experts across the world recommend exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of infancy as the best way to ensure optimal nutrition, growth and health," Dr. Daines said. "Breastfeeding helps prevent infections during infancy, and later in life, helps prevent asthma, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Mothers who breastfeed return to pre-pregnancy weight sooner and have lower rates of breast, ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancers."

DOH and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene are working with hospitals to institute measures that promote, support, and protect exclusive breastfeeding, such as ensuring that qualified staff are available to assist new mothers; facilitating breastfeeding in the first 30-60 minutes of life, providing support so that infants can feed on demand, including keeping babies in the mothers' hospital rooms up to 24 hours a day (called "rooming-in"); and providing referrals for breastfeeding support after discharge from the hospital.

In September, DOH launched a $1.6 million public health education campaign with television spots, online ads, and ads on buses and bus shelters statewide to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies (see www.health.ny.gov/community/pregnancy/breastfeeding/campaign). The campaign educated mothers about the health benefits of breastfeeding. The effort was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in recognition that the State's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program, which DOH administers, has one of the top 10 highest breastfeeding nutrition rates in the nation.