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Georgia Maternal and Child Health Officials recognize Baby-Friendly Hospital and support team

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Janet Christenbury

Seema Csukas, MD, PhD, director of the Maternal and Child Health section of the Georgia Department of Public Health presents the Georgia 5-STAR Hospital Initiative award to Sino Georgia, MSN, APRN, and Dan Owens, Emory University Hospital Midtown CEO.

The Maternal and Child Health Section of the Georgia Department of Public Health has recognized Emory University Hospital Midtown for its Baby-Friendly Hospital designation, which was awarded to the hospital earlier this year. State officials presented the Georgia 5-STAR Hospital Initiative award to the hospital team for providing exceptional breastfeeding support for both mother and infant in the maternity setting.

Georgia’s 5-STAR Hospital Initiative recognizes that every step matters, and awards one star for every two steps implemented of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as defined by Baby-Friendly USA, the official credentialing agency of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI).

"We are recognizing Emory University Hospital Midtown and its staff for demonstrating excellence in raising breastfeeding awareness and promoting breastfeeding," says Seema Csukas, MD, PhD, director of the Maternal and Child Health section of the Georgia Department of Public Health. "We extend our gratitude for your commitment to implementing and promoting best practices for maternal infant care and breastfeeding support."

According to Baby-Friendly USA, becoming a Baby-Friendly facility is a comprehensive, detailed and thorough journey toward excellence in providing evidence-based maternity care with the goal of achieving optimal infant feeding outcomes and mother/baby bonding. It recognizes and awards birthing facilities that successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (a program shown to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration) and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (a program ensuring the proper use of breast-milk substitutes and purchasing those substitutes.)

"Less than 10 percent of U.S. hospitals are designated Baby-Friendly," says Sino George, MSN, APRN, perinatal practice specialist in Emory's Maternity Center and Emory team lead for the Baby-Friendly designation. "This achievement proves that we are doing the right thing for mothers and their newborns by setting the standards for breastfeeding support and feeding substitutes."

In 2012, a team of Emory University Hospital Midtown nurses, physicians and lactation support staff began the journey to become a Baby-Friendly Hospital by participating in a new national effort called Best Fed Beginnings. The nearly two-year initiative sought to improve breastfeeding rates in states with the lowest rates by implementing a proven model that better supports a new mother’s choice to breastfeed.

In 2015, the hospital was awarded Baby-Friendly designation, which lasts for a period of five years.

Breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for both infants and mothers. Besides skin-to-skin contact and mother/baby bonding, human milk provides the optimal mix of nutrients and antibodies necessary for babies to thrive. Scientific studies have also shown that breastfed children have far fewer and less serious illnesses than those who never receive breast milk, including a reduced risk of SIDS, childhood cancers and diabetes.

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