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Release Date: 08/05/2015

At a press conference on August 5, 2015, Women & Infants Hospital announced that it has recently received prestigious international recognition as a Baby-Friendly® Designated birth facility. Women & Infants is the second-largest hospital in the nation to achieve this designation, and Rhode Island now ranks number one in the country in the percentage of babies born at Baby-Friendly® hospitals.

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and promote the best, evidence-based feeding practices for all babies.

“Women & Infants Hospital has long been a recognized leader in the care of women and newborns,” said Mark Marcantano, president and chief operating officer of Women & Infants. “This designation is a tribute to our commitment to ensuring that every woman who delivers a baby at Women & Infants Hospital is offered the resources, information and support needed to help her and her baby get the best, healthiest start in life.”

Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health said, “According to the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for healthy growth and development of infants, though its benefits extend beyond those commonly associated with infant and young child health. Successful breastfeeding has positive implications on maternal health, the environment, the work force and society as a whole.”

In 2012, Women & Infants was selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a first-of-its-kind national effort to significantly improve breastfeeding rates in states where rates are currently the lowest. The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) led the effort through a cooperative funding agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working closely with Baby-Friendly USA, Inc.

Although breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, half of U.S.-born babies are given formula within the first week, and the rates of breastfeeding decline significantly by six months. Best Fed Beginnings sought to reverse these trends by dramatically increasing the number of U.S. hospitals implementing a proven model for maternity services that better supports a new mother’s choice to breastfeed.

“We recognize that for women who plan to breastfeed, the hospital experience strongly influences a mother’s ability to start and continue breastfeeding. We are committed to implementing evidence-based care through the Baby-Friendly designation to ensure that mothers delivering in our facility who intend to breastfeed, as well as those who cannot or choose not to breastfeed, are fully supported,” said Angelleen Peters-Lewis, RN, PhD, senior vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer, Women & Infants. “This designation as a Baby-Friendly® hospital is the culmination of a lot of hard work and determination across our organization, all with a goal of helping families get off to the right start.”

Over the past few years, Women & Infants has implemented a number of maternity care practices that encourage breastfeeding and offer parents and babies the support and resources they need. These practices include rooming-in, skin-to-skin, and not distributing formula or artificial nipples (including pacifiers).

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About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 9th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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Amy Blustein
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