Baby-Friendly designation is valuable progress toward building healthy futures for Chicago’s newborns

January 14, 2016

Chicago, Ill. – Today’s announcement that Advocate Trinity Hospital is the first in Chicago to receive the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation is a step forward in addressing the City’s childhood obesity epidemic. The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) has secured funding and provided training to Advocate Trinity and other Chicago hospitals on track to receive this designation.

The Baby-Friendly designation, which is granted by Baby-Friendly USA, recognizes Advocate Trinity Hospital’s success at providing an optimal level of support for breastfeeding mothers and babies. The designation was achieved after a rigorous four-phase process culminating with a comprehensive on-site evaluation. Facilities that have successfully integrated the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding into their standard of care offer new mothers the information and support needed to initiate and sustain breastfeeding habits with their newborns.

“The City of Chicago congratulates Advocate Trinity Hospital on being recognized as Chicago’s first Baby-Friendly Hospital,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “Breast feeding gives infants an advantage that will help them for the rest of their lives. This is one more step forward in our ongoing efforts to improve the health of all infants and children across Chicago.”

Among the ten policy and practice changes hospitals must adopt to receive designation are a commitment to help mothers initiate breast feeding within an hour of giving birth, the support of “rooming in” to allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day, providing infants no food or drink beyond breast milk unless medically necessary and the training of all healthcare staff in the skills necessary to implement Baby Friendly policy.

“Breastfeeding is especially important inAdvocate Trinity Hospital communities where support has been traditionally lacking,” said Mary Ann Neumann, advance practice nurse for Women and Infant Services at Advocate Trinity Hospital. “Women who are young, have a lower economic status or are African American have been shown to have a lower breastfeeding rate overall.”

Evidence suggests a lower likelihood of obesity among those who were breastfed, along with many other health benefits. Data collected by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Chicago Public Schools in 2010-11 pointed to obesity rates as high as 1-in-5 for kindergartners and more than 1-in-4 for 6th graders.  As such, CDPH and the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) recognize the critical importance of the BFHI. To help the City’s birthing centers navigate the intensive demands of the Baby-Friendly process, CLOCC has provided technical assistance and expertise to help prepare hospitals and their staff transition to the Baby-Friendly culture.         

“Advocate Trinity’s designation as a Baby-Friendly Hospital is an achievement to be celebrated and to be emulated,” said Dr. Adam Becker, CLOCC Executive Director. “Breastfeeding from the earliest opportunity and sustained over time has been shown to have a positive impact on a child’s growth trajectory and thus many of our nation’s health experts consider it to be an important component of obesity prevention.”

While Advocate Trinity is the first hospital in Chicago – and the eighth in Illinois – to obtain Baby-Friendly status, an additional 14 medical facilities in the City are engaged in the certification process. The BHFI was created in 1991 by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to foster maternity care practices that promote and support breastfeeding. Today, over 20,000 maternity and infant care facilities in 152 countries, including 326 in the United States, are designated as Baby-Friendly.

In addition to Advocate Trinity, the following Chicago hospitals are currently engaged in the BFHI track:

Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center • Mercy Hospital and Medical Center • Mount Sinai Medical Center • Norwegian American Hospital • Prentice Women’s Hospital • Presence Resurrection Medical Center • Presence Saint Joseph Hospital • Presence Saints Mary & Elizabeth Hospital • Rush University Medical Center • John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County • Saint Anthony Hospital • Swedish Covenant Medical Center • University of Chicago Medical Center • University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center

The Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program housed at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Its mission is to confront the childhood obesity epidemic by promoting healthy and active lifestyles for children throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. CLOCC creates and sustains the types of multi-sector collaboration recommended by our nation’s health leaders. Currently, CLOCC has over 3,000 participants representing over 1,300 organizations.