News & Views

Impact Newsletter - April 2012

Kaiser Permanente Hospitals Commit to Breastfeeding Initiative

Kaiser Permanente Hospitals Commit to Breastfeeding Initiative

Numerous studies have confirmed that one of the best interventions to prevent childhood obesity is available to most families long before their children are able to able to handle a spoon; in fact, it can begin the very hour an infant is born, when it first begins to breastfeed. To promote that vital lesson, Kaiser Permanente recently signed a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to support breastfeeding as a key strategy in its multipronged campaign against obesity. PHA is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis.

With more than 96,000 births in 2010, Kaiser Permanente cares for more moms and babies than any other integrated health care system. With those numbers, Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to make breastfeeding a priority for each child born in one of its hospitals has the potential to make a very big impact, said Lawrence A. Soler, CEO of PHA, of which Kaiser Permanente is a founding member.

The breastfeeding pledge commits all of Kaiser Permanente’s 29 hospitals that offer maternal and child health services to become designated as “Baby-Friendly” and/or participate in the Joint Commission’s Perinatal Core Measures program. That program requires participating hospitals to report their rates of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge a measure in which Kaiser Permanente hospitals already excel. The “Baby Friendly” designation is conferred by Baby-Friendly USA, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes the benefits of breastfeeding by implementing UNICEF’s global Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States.

In addition, Kaiser Permanente will establish a system-wide performance improvement program focusing on the development and implementation of evidence-based hospital breastfeeding practices and make publicly available a hospital breastfeeding practices guide that other systems can use to improve maternity care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, and others have all identified breastfeeding as one of the most important actions families can take to prevent childhood obesity and to promote a variety of health benefits for infants and mothers.