Mississippi Leads the Way…
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) has reached another important milestone: over 600 birthing facilities are now Baby-Friendly designated in the US, representing more than 28% of the nation’s births.
Since 1996, when the first hospital in the US was designated Baby-Friendly, more than 6.5 million babies have been born in Baby-Friendly designated facilities in the US.
“It was not long ago that we were celebrating 100 Baby-Friendly designated facilities in the US and now we’re over 600 and still rising,” says Trish MacEnroe, Baby-Friendly USA’s Chief Executive Officer. “The rapid growth we’ve experienced in the past few years reflects increased and widespread enthusiasm for best practice infant feeding care in our country.”
This moment is all the more rewarding because the 599th and 600th designated hospitals are both from Mississippi, a state with enormous opportunity to improve health outcomes and reduce racial disparities related to breastfeeding practices. The addition of these two hospitals to the Baby-Friendly ranks bring the total number of designated hospitals in that state to 18, representing more than 50% of Mississippi births.
This is a remarkable achievement, given that there were NO Baby-Friendly designated hospitals in Mississippi until just four short years ago.
Much of the impetus behind the turnaround began with CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices), a program out of Boston Medical Center’s Center for Health Equity, Education and Research, which launched in Mississippi in 2014 and is supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Bower Foundation. Mississippi CHAMPS provides technical assistance to hospitals in Mississippi around Baby-Friendly designation with a focus on decreasing racial disparities in breastfeeding rates.
“We are so excited about the growth of Baby-Friendly in Mississippi and what this will mean for improved equity in infant health outcomes in the state,” says Anne Merewood, PhD, MPH, director of CHAMPS. “The hospitals, communities, and our various partners – including ROSE, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi, the Mississippi WIC program and EveryMother – have worked incredibly hard as a team to make this possible.”
“And we’re not done yet!” she says.