News: Many hospitals inadvertently discourage breastfeeding

August 1, 2008

Maternity practices that could interfere with breastfeeding are common in US hospitals.

Maternity practices that could potentially interfere with breastfeeding are common in US hospitals and birth centers, according to survey results published June 13 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Ann M. DiGirolamo, PhD, of Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues report on a survey of maternity practices regarding breastfeeding involving 2,687 facilities in the 50 states plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico (which are referred to as states in the study). Facilities were scored on factors such as breastfeeding instruction, newborn feeding practices, and support after discharge, which were compiled into state and US scores.

Mean scores tended to be higher in the Northeast and western regions and lower in the South, the researchers report. Scores were highest for breastfeeding assistance, which included assessment and instruction for infant feeding. They were lowest for breastfeeding support after discharge, the report indicates. Common practices that aren't supportive of breastfeeding included giving supplements as a general practice to many healthy breastfeeding newborns and providing formula samples to breastfeeding mothers at discharge.

DiGirolamo AM, Manninen DL, Cohen JH et al. Breastfeeding-related maternity practices at hospitals and birth centers-United States, 2007. MMWR. 2008;57(23);621-625