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Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)

Overview

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was created by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization to recognize hospitals and birth centers around the world that offer an environment that is optimal for breastfeeding.  In the United States, Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is a non-governmental, not for profit organization that promotes the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and awards Baby-Friendly status to maternity facilities that fulfill criteria for this designation. In order to be designated Baby-Friendly, maternity facilities must adopt the BFHI’s Ten Steps for Successful Breastfeeding, a specific set of evidence-based practices that support breastfeeding initiation and sustained breastfeeding over time.  Maternity facilities must also purchase infant formula and related products such as bottles and nipples at fair market rates, and discontinue distribution of free gift bags sponsored by formula companies.  As of January, 2011, there were 105 Baby-Friendly hospitals in the United States.  Boston Medical Center (BMC), an urban academic medical center serving primarily low-income, minority patients, received Baby-Friendly designation in 1999.   

Intended Population: Mothers and newborn infants

Setting: Hospitals and birth centers

Length of time in the field:  Implementation of Baby-Friendly practices at BMC began in 1997; BMC gained Baby-Friendly designation in 1999.