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Breastfeed Med. 2014 Jun;9(5):257-60. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2013.0140. Epub 2014 May 2.

Bag free in the Bay State.

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1 Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School , Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Massachusetts.



The deleterious effect of formula company-sponsored discharge bags on breastfeeding is well established. As of July 2012, all 49 maternity facilities in Massachusetts had banned these bags, making it the second "bag-free" state in the United States. Obstacles to changing this long-standing practice were numerous, including concerns regarding the cost of a substitute gift. This study was designed to describe what practices maternity facilities in Massachusetts have adopted in place of giving out a formula company-sponsored discharge bag.


Maternity facilities in Massachusetts were surveyed regarding discharge gift practices. Information was collected regarding gifts given and cost.


The response rate was 100%. Fifty-nine percent of the facilities replaced the formula company-sponsored bag with their own gift bag carrying the hospital's logo. Bags were either given empty or contained educational materials and/or a gift such as a T-shirt, hat, or baby book. Fourteen percent of the facilities gave a gift that did not include a bag. Twenty-seven percent of facilities gave no gift. Cost of the gifts ranged from $1 to $35, with a mean cost of $10.67. The hospital budget was used to partially or fully fund 58% of gifts; 22% were covered in part by donations.


Although most maternity facilities surveyed replaced the formula company-sponsored discharge bag with a different gift, one-quarter gave no replacement. These data indicate that discontinuing discharge gifts can be a readily accepted, cost-neutral step toward evidence-based breastfeeding best practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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