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June 28, 2013

DC Breastfeeding Coalition Launches Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

Washington, DC - With a recently awarded grant from the DC Department of Health's Community Transformation Grant program, the DC Breastfeeding Coalition (DCBFC) seeks to expand the number of baby-friendly hospitals operating in the District of Columbia through the use of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). The BFHI is a global program, launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund, to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding.

In 2012, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital became the first hospital in the District of Columbia designated as Baby-Friendly. Howard University and Providence Hospitals were selected to participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality Best Fed Beginning Collaborative. The two facilities, along with 87 others across the nation, are currently in the third phase of the 4-phase process of becoming designated by Baby-Friendly USA.

"The DC Breastfeeding Coalition sees the Creating a Baby-Friendly District of Columbia Initiative as a great opportunity to increase the number of Baby-Friendly facilities by two additional facilities; bringing the total to five of eight," notes Dr. Sahira Long, President of the Coalition. "Becoming a Baby-Friendly facility is a comprehensive, detailed process, and one that requires institutional commitment to improve breastfeeding-related maternity care practices. DCBFC's primary goal for this project is to assist the selected maternity facilities to navigate the Baby-Friendly designation process."

The Baby-Friendly designated hospitals in the United States have experienced elevated rates of breastfeeding initiation and exclusivity. Mothers who give birth at Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing centers are more likely to initiate exclusive breastfeeding and more likely to sustain breastfeeding at six months and one year of age, perhaps because of the institutional support for breastfeeding at these

Throughout the next fifteen months, DCBFC will work with those facilities that have the largest number of deliveries per year, and who have a high number of low-income and minority clients. The coalition will offer trainings for clinical and ancillary support staff, prenatal education planning, and information toolkits for staff that do not provide direct clinical support to familiarize them with the role they play in the institutional changes required to successfully achieve designation.

About the DC Breastfeeding Coalition
The DC Breastfeeding Coalition was founded in December of 2004, to support, promote, and protect breastfeeding in the District of Columbia. The Coalition unites breastfeeding advocates, health care providers, and families, providing a forum for the development and exchange of resources to establish breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies. Breastfeeding is the single intervention that confers a lifetime of health benefits during infancy and beyond.

This program is funded wholly, or in part, by the Government of the District of Columbia, Department of Health, Community Health Administration.
Department of Health/CDC; CHA.CTGP2.DCBFC.062013.