|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2008
Harlem Hospital First in NYC to Receive "Baby–Friendly" Designation by World Health Organization, UNICEF
Joins Exclusive List of Institutions Recognized Worldwide for Promoting Breastfeeding, Infant Health
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) today announced that Harlem Hospital Center is the first hospital in New York City to receive the coveted "Baby Friendly" certification granted by Baby-Friendly USA, part of a global initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The global Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative selects hospitals and birthing centers that successfully implement the recommended 10 steps of a comprehensive breastfeeding program, which includes limits on baby formula, initiating breastfeeding in the first hour of life, keeping mothers and babies in the same room, and support groups for women who breastfeed.
"We want to do all we can to improve the health of the littlest New Yorkers and encourage the use of mother’s milk for the nearly 22,000 babies born in our hospitals each year," said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. "We look forward to having more of our hospitals achieve the same international recognition as Harlem Hospital Center."
Worldwide, more than 19,000 maternity facilities have received the Baby Friendly designation, while only 64 facilities have been certified in the United States.
"I congratulate Harlem Hospital on their progress supporting new mothers," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. "By implementing the Baby Friendly Steps program, Harlem Hospital has once again demonstrated its commitment to helping New York City babies get a healthier start in life. There are so many wonderful benefits to breastfeeding for babies and new mothers, and this program will ensure that hundreds of families understand and benefit from this important message."
In 2007, Harlem Hospital Center delivered 1,148 babies and in the first quarter of 2008 81% of mothers who delivered at Harlem were breastfeeding their babies when they left the hospital.
"Harlem Hospital Center is pleased and proud to have earned the internationally recognized designation as a Baby Friendly Hospital. This designation confirms our commitment to supporting a mother's decision to breastfeed," said John Palmer PhD, Executive Director, Harlem Hospital Center. "We welcome this wonderful opportunity to promote breastfeeding and ultimately help reduce the risks of common childhood infections, asthma, and diabetes."
Baby-Friendly certification requires the implementation of these ten steps to successful breastfeeding:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy, and routinely communicate it to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement the breastfeeding policy.
- Inform all pregnant women of the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming-in, which allows mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.
- Establish breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
Breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of an infant's life has many health benefits for babies and mothers, including a reduction in infectious diseases and mortality during infancy, improved bonding, and postpartum maternal weight loss. Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risks of common childhood infections, asthma, diabetes and other conditions that children who get mother’s milk are less likely to develop. It saves time and money for families in both baby formula and medical costs. An estimated $2.16 billion dollars could be saved annually in the United States if women exclusive breastfeed for just 12 weeks after delivery. Despite these benefits, relatively few women breastfeed exclusively for the recommended 6-month time period.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is a $5.4 billion public benefit corporation that serves 1.3 million New Yorkers and nearly 400,000 who are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based health centers. For more information about HHC, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.