March 13, 2018

DETROIT— Henry Ford Hospital is pleased to announce it has earned the prestigious Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) designation. Baby-Friendly® designation is awarded to hospitals and birthing facilities globally that adhere to strict breastfeeding and maternal care guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

By earning this certification, Henry Ford Hospital is among fewer than 500 of the country’s more than 3,000 hospitals that have qualified for the “Baby-Friendly” designation.

"The awarding of the Baby-Friendly designation is a testament to the commitment and dedication of our staff, our leaders and the organization which has embraced proven best practices centered on giving babies the best possible start in life," says Marie Bosco, R.N., international board certified lactation consultant at Henry Ford Hospital. "We are especially excited about the impact these efforts may have on helping to reduce infant mortality in our community.”

Becoming a Baby-Friendly® institution is a rigorous process and the designation is awarded only to organizations that demonstrate a full commitment to the 10-Steps to Successful Breastfeeding guidelines. Practices include encouraging skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby within the first hour of life and having babies stay with mom, known as rooming in, 23 out of 24 hours a day to establish mother-baby bonding.

Research shows that breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood.

“We support breastfeeding because there’s evidence showing that mother’s milk provides optimal nutrition for babies as well as protection from diseases and infections,” Bosco says. “Babies who are fed breast milk are less likely to develop asthma and diabetes and those who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses and bouts of diarrhea.”

As part of earning the five-year designation, more than 1,100 Henry Ford physicians, nurses and other staff from all across the hospital, received varying degrees of training so they can support and educate women about breastfeeding during prenatal visits, after the baby’s birth, and through discharge from the hospital.

Henry Ford Hospital has also established several community partnerships to provided continued breastfeeding support to mothers once they leave the hospital. Partners include the Women- Inspired Neighborhood Network (Win Network), which links women in Detroit with breastfeeding and other support services, Black Mother’s Breastfeeding Association, Focus HOPE, and Michigan Women, Infants and Children (WIC) service, among others.

To enable mothers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, WHO and UNICEF recommend:
• Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
• Exclusive breastfeeding – that is the infant only receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water
• Breastfeeding on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night
• Delayed use of bottles, artificial nipples and pacifiers until breastfeeding is established

Breastfeeding is also beneficial for a mother’s health as women who breastfeed are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, breast or ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and type II diabetes.

Two other Henry Ford hospitals have earned this certification. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital achieved Baby-Friendly designation in 2014, and Henry Ford Allegiance Health has been recognized as Baby-Friendly since 2015.

Synthia Bryant
[email protected]