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Improved maternity care practices decrease racial gaps in breastfeeding in the U.S. south

Medical news 1

CAMDEN City, NJ -- A new paper published in Pediatrics links successful implementation of Baby-Friendly™ practices in the southern U.S. with increases in breastfeeding rates and improved, evidence-based care. The changes were especially positive for African-American women.

Between 2014 and 2017, 33 hospitals enrolled into the CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices) program out of Boston Medical Center’s Center for Health Equity, Education and Research, funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. All birthing hospitals in Greater New Orleans, and 18 in Mississippi, signed up. Breastfeeding initiation at CHAMPS hospitals rose from 66 to 75 percent, and, among African Americans, from 43 to 63 percent, over the 3 years. The gap between White and Black breastfeeding rates decreased by 9.6 percent.

“This project is especially important because we have shown that by providing equitable care and best practices, we can decrease racial disparities and achieve optimal health outcomes as well as happy families,” says Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, MPH, a co-author of the study and professor of pediatrics at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in Camden, N.J.   

Dr. Feldman-Winter is a consultant to Boston Medical Center’s Center for Health Equity Education and Research and collaborated on the study as the physician lead.

Encouraging the bond between mother and infant

Lakendrea Bush gave birth to her first daughter, Aubreigh, at Baptist Memorial Hospital, North Mississippi, on December 7th, 2018. The hospital is part of the CHAMPS program and working on improved maternal infant care.

“It was a wonderful blessing, a humbling and beautiful experience,” says Lakendrea. “We had skin to skin for a whole hour after birth. Some hospitals take the baby away, but not this one,” she said. “I cried. I gave her her first feed. It was my first child, and she was looking at me, and me at her. My husband was coaching me along. It was almost surreal.”

About Dr. Feldman-Winter and CMSRU

Dr. Feldman-Winter is recognized nationally and internationally for her work related to breastfeeding education programs and nutrition policy, and has a longstanding collaboration with the team from Boston Medical Center and the Center for Health Equity Education and Research. She is the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on Breastfeeding, member of the AAP Task Force on SIDS, AAP representative to the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), and National Faculty Co-Chair for the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) -National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep- Improvement and Innovation Network (NAPPSS-IIN).

Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) is the only four-year, MD-granting school in southern New Jersey.  Developed through a partnership between Cooper University Health Care and Rowan University, CMSRU is a proudly mission-driven school focused on developing highly skilled and socially conscious physician leaders who value a patient-centered, team approach to health care. Its innovative curriculum provides students with small-group, self-directed learning and early and continuous patient care experiences, beginning the third week of medical school. CMSRU graduated its charter class in 2016.  Currently, 375 medical students are enrolled and nearly 650 biomedical scientists, physicians, researchers and other medical professionals hold faculty appointments at CMSRU.