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Comment & Response
March 2017

The Importance of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

Author Affiliations
  • 1New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health, Long Island City, New York
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(3):303. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.4789

To the Editor The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene experience during the last 4 years implementing the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative demonstrates breastfeeding success by numerous metrics including a breastfeeding initiation rate of 89%. Through the New York City Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative, we assisted 7 hospitals and 1 birthing center in becoming designated as Baby-Friendly Hospitals.1 New York City now has 9 designated facilities, with mothers and infants receiving the standard of care prescribed by the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. At the same time, our vital statistics show no difference in overall number of sudden infant death syndrome deaths, as cautioned by Bass et al.2 The importance of in-hospital observation is reflected in step 2 of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding: train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement the policy.3 For the New York City Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative, this means training all staff to continuously assess and observe mothers and infants from birth until hospital discharge. Additionally, all maternity institutions must abide by relevant state regulations, accreditation standards, code of ethics and protocols, and policies and procedures, which are not affected by Baby-Friendly Hospital status.

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