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Breastfeed Med. 2008 Jun;3(2):110-6. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2007.0039.

Impact of hospital policies on breastfeeding outcomes.

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Office of Family Health, Oregon Public Health Division, Portland, Oregon 97232, USA.



The objective of this study was to explore the association between the Ten Steps of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) of the World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland) and breastfeeding at 2 days and 2 weeks.


A 65-question institutional survey assessing compliance with the Ten Steps was used to determine an overall breastfeeding Support Score for each of Oregon's 57 birthing hospitals. Hospital breastfeeding outcomes were obtained from the newborn metabolic screening forms.


Hospitals' overall breastfeeding Support Scores ranged from 49.4 to 98.2 out of a possible total score of 100. Hospital compliance with individual Steps ranged from 5.3% for Step 2 (staff training) to 93% for Step 4 (helping with breastfeeding initiation) and Step 8 (encouraging feeding on demand). After controlling for institutional differences (by multivariate linear regression) we found that increases in overall hospital breastfeeding Support Scores were associated with increases in breastfeeding percentage at 2 days (p = 0.021) and at 2 weeks postpartum (p = 0.011). In analyzing each Step individually, however, only the presence of a written hospital policy was independently associated with breastfeeding percent (p = 0.028).


This institutional-level evaluation corroborates previous findings demonstrating that increased implementation of the Ten Steps is associated with increased breastfeeding. Further, it suggests that hospitals with comprehensive breastfeeding policies are likely to have better breastfeeding support services and better breastfeeding outcomes. Hospitals may consider using these results to prioritize breastfeeding support services through development of hospital breastfeeding policies and to utilize institutional surveys as a component of breastfeeding quality improvement initiatives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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