Infant Health

  • Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children’s Health: May 2016

    Posted May 19, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs.

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  • Boxing Out Unsafe Sleep Practices for Babies

    Posted May 10, 2016 by Josh Grant

    In the 1930s, Finland’s infant mortality rate reached 65 deaths per 1,000 live births, leading to the 1938 introduction of baby boxes—kits that include a mattress, bedding, diapers, a box that serves as a crib and other necessities. By 2015, that rate had dwindled to an estimated 2.52 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2014, there were 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States, 25 percent of which were caused by accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. Learning from Finland’s success, organizations in the U.S. are beginning to offer their own baby boxes to new families.

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  • Rhode Island Targets Social Factors to Achieve Health Equity

    Posted May 05, 2016 by Rachel Kremen

    While a higher percentage of Rhode Islanders have health insurance compared to the U.S. average, achieving health equity has been a challenge for the state—especially for its infant mortality rate. Now, the Rhode Island Department of Health is targeting key social factors that impact infant mortality in minority groups, including education, income and stress. The Rhode Island Commission for Health Advocacy and Equity was created in 2011 to address the inequity, by bringing together state agencies to focus on the social determinants of health—typically defined as the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. Aligning the efforts of those inside and outside the state is also key.

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  • Medicaid Strategies to Promote Full-Term Births

    Posted May 03, 2016 by Tamara Kramer

    Reducing the rate of pre-term birth is a major priority for state health agencies and a growing concern for state Medicaid programs. Medicaid agencies provide coverage for over half of the nation’s births each year and pay for a higher rate of premature or low-birth weight babies than the private insurance market (10.4 percent versus 9.1 percent). Pre-term birth, a birth that occurs prior to 37 weeks of gestation, is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Early delivery is associated with a host of long-term health issues for the infant, including sight and hearing loss, cerebral palsy and developmental and intellectual disabilities.

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  • Rooming-in: An Essential Evolution in American Maternity Care

    Posted April 28, 2016 by Jennifer Ustianov, MS, BSN, RN, IBCLC

    Over the past few years, many U.S. hospitals have moved away from the traditional use of nurseries for healthy newborn infants, choosing to move toward rooming-in and couplet care. Rooming-in is an evidence-based practice that promotes keeping healthy newborn babies and their mothers together in post-labor recovery rooms. This recent change in practice and policy for many hospitals is partially based on recommendations in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the increased movement toward earning Baby-Friendly designation in the U.S.

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  • Why I Participate: By Parent Partner Ivette Torres

    Posted April 26, 2016 by Ivette Torres

    Ivette Torres shares why proper support is key for positive breastfeeding outcomes and how her experiences led her to join the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative as a parent partner.

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  • ABCs of Safe Sleep Education Reduces Sleep-Related Infant Deaths in Tennessee

    Posted April 12, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Through a multi-faceted statewide campaign, which includes teaching new parents and hospital staff the ABCs of safe sleep practices, Tennessee has seen a 25 percent reduction in sleep-related infant deaths since 2014. Tennessee’s successful safe sleep strategy has focused on teaching and modeling safe sleep behaviors—both in the hospital setting and directly with parents—using the primary message, “Remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep.”

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  • Delaware Hones in on Medical-Legal Partnerships to Reduce Infant Mortality

    Posted April 05, 2016 by Wendy Loveland

    A pregnant woman living in poverty faces stress that often has negative consequences for her and her baby’s health, including infant mortality. Unmet housing needs, lack of access to quality healthcare, financial insecurity, immigration status and family stability are just some of the social determinants of health affecting pregnant women. Many of these stressful situations require legal aid, but healthcare and the law have historically worked separately. The Delaware team participating in the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN), led by NICHQ, is working to develop medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) to address these stressors in an integrated way and improve health outcomes for women and babies.

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  • Why I Participate: By Parent Partner Mercédez Cahue

    Posted March 31, 2016 by Mercédez Cahue

    Mercédez Cahue shares her breastfeeding experience and why she joined the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative as a parent partner.

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  • Just Download It: Wyoming Discovers Novel Way to Help Pregnant Mothers

    Posted March 29, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Wyoming is improving its birth outcomes one downloader at a time. An interactive mobile app—Due Date Plus—that the state Medicaid office developed for pregnant women is redefining prenatal education and transforming how Medicaid meets the needs of its pregnant population.

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  • Focusing on Population-Level, Collaborative, Perinatal Outcomes Improvement

    Posted March 24, 2016 by Ed Donovan

    It is becoming increasingly clear that efforts to improve risk-appropriate site of delivery may benefit from close collaboration among perinatal care providers, payers and public health organizations. State health departments and state hospital associations often manage repositories of population-level perinatal data while perinatal quality collaboratives can engage front-line providers. Collaborative partnerships among these entities can facilitate improved outcomes at the population level.

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  • Better Care for High-Risk Babies: Improving Perinatal Regionalization in Illinois

    Posted March 10, 2016 by Elizabeth Baker

    An ongoing effort from the Illinois team involved in the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) is to get 90 percent of very preterm infants in Illinois delivered in Level 3 perinatal facilities. These facilities feature neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), where a combination of leading-edge technology and specially trained staff can vastly improve health outcomes for high-risk babies.

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  • WIC Reps Bridge Gap Between Community and Hospitals through Breastfeeding Support

    Posted March 08, 2016 by Sonya Spillmann, RN

    With both large urban and rural areas in Texas, sharing consistent and accurate information about the benefits of breastfeeding with mothers and healthcare workers is an enormous undertaking. One statewide initiative, the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative, is harnessing the power of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) staff, using them as conduits for communicating evidence-based practices and offering guidance to both mothers and healthcare providers.

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  • South Carolina Finds Winning Strategy to Reducing Unintended Pregnancies in its Medicaid Population

    Posted March 01, 2016 by Wendy Loveland

    In South Carolina, half of all pregnancies in 2010 were unintended, primarily due to either lack of or failed contraceptives. Within the South Carolina Medicaid population, almost 79 percent of women defined their pregnancy as unintended. This is particularly troubling because births resulting from unintended pregnancies are linked to adverse maternal and child health outcomes and myriad social and economic challenges. To reduce this percentage, South Carolina Medicaid began a policy change in 2012 aimed at increasing the use of immediate postpartum inpatient insertions of long-acting, reversible contraceptives (LARCs).

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  • Second-Time Moms Appreciate Hospital Changes to Support Breastfeeding

    Posted February 23, 2016 by Rachel Kremen

    When Nicole Acosta delivered her first child in May 2013, she knew she wanted to breastfeed, but she didn’t get as much support as she’d expected at her hospital, Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Islip, NY. Despite an uncomplicated delivery, no one suggested immediate skin-to-skin contact—a practice known to increase the likelihood of breastfeeding success. By the time she had her second son in June 2015, things had certainly changed at the hospital.

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  • New CDC Data Shows More Work Needed to Curb Smoking During Pregnancy

    Posted February 19, 2016 by Sabrina Selk

    It has been more than 50 years since the Surgeon General’s report on the adverse health impacts of smoking. However, maternal smoking during pregnancy remains a persistent problem that healthcare and public health professionals have been unable to eliminate.

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  • NYS Hospitals See Dramatic Results in Breastfeeding Collaborative

    Posted February 17, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Recruitment is open for hospitals in New York State to join the state’s Breastfeeding Quality Improvement in Hospitals (BQIH) Learning Collaborative. If the results of the predecessor cohort of hospitals is any indication, these new recruits are in for some big changes.

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  • How Kansas is Leveraging the Infant Mortality CoIIN to Accelerate Improvement

    Posted February 11, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Networks (CoIINs) offer many tools and resources for their participants. From driver diagrams to measurement strategies to change packages and collaboration tools, the underlying supports for accelerating change are all there. A participant just needs to reach out and embrace them.

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  • The Long-Term Value of Better Breastfeeding Support

    Posted February 09, 2016 by Liz Barker

    For hospitals and patients alike, the benefits of boosting breastfeeding support last far beyond any hospital stay. Investing in improved maternity practices can lead to major quality gains, jumps in patient satisfaction, and slashed healthcare costs—not to mention its power to drive up breastfeeding rates and protect the health of both moms and babies.

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  • The Value of Increasing Exclusive Breastfeeding along the Texas-Mexico Border

    Posted February 04, 2016 by Wendy Loveland

    A baseline report shows that only 15 percent of infants born in South Texas (Health Service Region 11) in 2009 were exclusively breastfed on their second day of life compared to 42 percent of infants in Texas overall, and as many as 55 percent in other parts of the state. An increase in exclusive breastfeeding in the Valley could not only increase the state’s overall rate, but could provide a roadmap for other similar communities to follow to improve the health of their residents.

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  • Protecting Babies From Sleep-Related Deaths Starts With Painting a Clear Picture

    Posted January 28, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Today’s parents and parents-to-be rely a great deal on the Internet, print and broadcast media to inform their childcare and parenting practices. Yet in a recent study of magazines targeting women of child-bearing age, more than one-third of images showed babies in unsafe sleep positions (e.g., on their stomachs) and more than two-thirds showed babies in unsafe sleep environments (e.g., in a crib with blankets). Thousands of precious lives could be saved each year if every parent and caregiver had a clear picture of what it takes to protect their babies during sleep.

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  • Join Interactive Webinar on Improving the Health of New Mothers

    Posted January 26, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    NICHQ, along with partners AMCHP and the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health, is turning the session “Improving the Health of New Mothers: Building Woman‐Centered Postpartum Systems of Care” into a free public webinar. We invite you to join us on Feb. 2, from 3:30-5 p.m. ET

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  • Moms Deserve Better Care In The Fourth Trimester

    Posted January 20, 2016 by Alison Stuebe

    In the weeks following childbirth, mothers must adapt to plunging hormones, recover from birth and learn how to feed and care for a new infant. Amid these challenges, moms receive minimal support from the healthcare system. Postpartum visits are typically scheduled four to six weeks after birth, leaving moms to cope on their own for more than a month. Moms need more support in the weeks following birth.

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  • Supporting Breastfeeding Across A Hospital System

    Posted January 04, 2016 by Wendy Loveland

    Changing a habit is not easy, even when you know it is “good for you.” The same goes for changing healthcare systems. The benefits of breastfeeding are well known, and supported by the World Health Organization, the Joint Commission, and many other healthcare accreditation and oversight agencies and experts. However, many hospitals struggle to create environments that support mothers who choose to breastfeed.

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  • States Use Home Visiting Programs to Spread Safe Sleep Messages

    Posted November 18, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    The growing demand for maternal and child health services and support, coupled with stagnant or shrinking resources, is causing state health departments to find creative ways to do more with less. Many states are leveraging home visiting programs as a convenient way to spread important information and strategies related to safe sleep practices, a key component of infant mortality reduction efforts.

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  • Being Small Has Advantages for Hospitals Implementing the Ten Steps

    Posted November 13, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    Turns out, size may not matter. Small rural hospitals in New York State are experiencing as much, if not more, success in implementing evidenced-based practices to improve maternity care practices as their bigger suburban and urban counterparts.

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  • Battling Prematurity to Ensure a Fighting Chance for Every Baby

    Posted November 10, 2015 by March of Dimes

    Every year, about 380,000 babies are born too soon in the United States. Our preterm birth rate of 9.6 percent places the U.S. among the worst of high resource nations. Preterm birth is the leading cause of newborn death and babies who survive an early birth often face serious and lifelong health problems. November is the time to focus the spotlight on the problem of prematurity during Prematurity Awareness Month and World Prematurity Day Nov. 17.

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  • Bringing the APHA Poster Session to You

    Posted November 05, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    NICHQ staff members were thrilled to see so many familiar faces at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Chicago earlier this week. The meeting’s theme was “Health in All Policies.” We couldn’t agree more that the environments in which people learn, live, play and work have a tremendous impact on their health.

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  • 4 Tips for Reducing Formula Supplementation in the Hospital

    Posted October 27, 2015 by Kristie Velarde

    When a patient recently delivered her second baby at Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston, she was surrounded by a team dedicated to supporting her decision to breastfeed. The support, which began in the delivery room and continued after she returned home, made a difference.

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  • New Video: Methods for Moving a Nation

    Posted October 22, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    In this new video from the IM CoIIN project, hear how the project is cleverly combining three key methods for change—collaborative learning, innovation networks and quality improvement—to achieve results in reducing infant mortality across the country.

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  • Save a Life With Your Facebook Feed

    Posted October 20, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    While Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is only a day, and SIDS Awareness Month is only a month, education and awareness have lasting effects. By working together through the power of social media, we can save more babies.

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  • NY Hospital Sees Breastfeeding Rates Soar with Neonatologist Leading Change

    Posted October 15, 2015 by Kristie Velarde

    Yogangi Malhotra, MD, attending neonatologist and an early champion of breastfeeding, knew it wouldn’t be easy to bring change to New York’s Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital. But, her unique role as a neonatologist and the QI project team leader helped foster change more quickly in five key areas.

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  • Baby-Friendly Hospitals Go From Crawling to Cruising

    Posted October 08, 2015 by NICHQ

    The new issue of Vital Signs from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention focuses on hospital actions that influence breastfeeding—and there is good news. Hospitals are making progress implementing the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, evidence-based practices that create an environment to support mothers who choose to breastfeed.

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  • Managing Life Stressors Helps to Reduce Infant Mortality

    Posted September 29, 2015 by Wendy Loveland

    Participants in the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) are working to reduce the U.S.’s infant mortality rate and improve birth outcomes. By addressing the underlying causes of infant mortality, in particular, stress, teams hope to reduce infant deaths overall, as well as close the disparity gap between white and black babies.

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  • Diaper Vouchers Add Extra Incentive for Pregnant Women to Quit Smoking

    Posted September 22, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    It is not exactly cold hard cash, but don’t poo poo it. Free diapers are enough of an incentive to encourage pregnant women to quit smoking and stay quit.

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  • Prenatal to Postpartum Continuum of Care Provides Benefits for Mothers Choosing to Breastfeed

    Posted September 15, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    Educating mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding before they enter the hospital increases the likelihood mothers will choose the beneficial feeding method. However, building bridges between care providers, community groups and hospitals can be surprisingly difficult. One community participating in the New York State Breastfeeding Quality Improvement in Hospitals (BQIH) Learning Collaborative has figured it out.

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  • A Practical Approach to Keep Stakeholders Engaged

    Posted September 10, 2015 by Cindy Hutter

    When it comes to building and maintaining support for its ongoing infant mortality reduction efforts, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health has a practical solution: repackage and re-share. Factsheets are helping Wisconsin build and maintain support for their infant health work.

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  • Addressing Infant Health Disparities in the American Indian Population Starts by Building Trust with Tribes

    Posted September 03, 2015 by Rachel Kremen

    Native Americans have rich traditions and beliefs that often conflict with Western healthcare culture. To address disparities in infant health in this vulnerable population, experts say public health and healthcare workers need to build relationships first, then offer advice second.

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  • Resources and Must Reads for Infant Mortality Awareness and Sickle Cell Awareness Month

    Posted September 01, 2015 by NICHQ

    NICHQ is joining with organizations around the country and world to celebrate Infant Mortality Awareness Month and National Sickle Cell Awareness Month in September. NICHQ has a long history of working to improve outcomes on these health topics. We invite you to explore and share our resources, stories, videos and other materials related to reducing infant mortality rates and improving care for individuals with sickle cell disease.

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  • Find Success and Mirror It - Can It Be That Simple?

    Posted December 12, 2014 by Elissa Faro, PhD

    Childhood malnutrition. Infant mortality. Childhood obesity. Health inequalities and disparities. These are just some of the most demanding problems facing those who work to improve child health. However, these big issues are often seemingly intractable. How do you move the needle when previous efforts have yielded such meager results? One answer may lie in the concept of positive deviance.

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  • Contradicting Assumptions About Infant Mortality Rates: How Far Upstream?

    Posted November 04, 2014 by Charles J. Homer, MD, MPH

    Learning often begins when facts contradict our assumptions. While attending the kickoff summits of the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Reduce Infant Mortality in July, I became aware of at least two facts that contradicted my previous assumptions: (1) that infant mortality rates for non-Hispanic blacks are higher in the upper Midwestern states than they are in the deep South and (2) that the declines in infant mortality in several southern states over the past decade have been steeper than anywhere else in the country.

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  • Improvements in Maternity Care Practice Are Not Easy

    Posted September 22, 2014 by Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, MPH

    As NICHQ’s faculty chair for Best Fed Beginnings, a national initiative that supports hospitals seeking Baby-Friendly designation, I am frequently exposed to pushback regarding the improvements required for a hospital to achieve this designation. Recently, an article published in the Washington Post portrayed Baby-Friendly practices as a problematic set of policies that “force” a new mother to breastfeed against her wishes. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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  • Why I Struggled to Find My Breastfeeding North Star

    Posted August 27, 2014 by Katrina McCarty, MPA

    As a new mom, I found myself searching for a true guiding presence as I tried to make decisions about caring for my daughter and myself. I knew I wanted to breastfeed her and I assumed it would be easy. I assumed the stars would align and she and I would be deliriously connected and she would be nourished. I assumed a hungry baby and a food source were enough. Not quite.

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  • A Busy Summer: Building Blocks, Babies and Breastfeeding

    Posted August 15, 2014 by Meghan Johnson, MSc

    August is typically a month for relaxing, vacationing and taking long weekends to enjoy the warm weather. At NICHQ, we get our share of R & R, but August 2014 is also a particularly busy and exciting time! In August, we celebrate National Breastfeeding Month and World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), and as part of that, I am excited to help launch NICHQ’s new breastfeeding project with the New York State Department of Health.

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  • Communicate, Collaborate and Innovate to Reduce Infant Mortality

    Posted July 02, 2014 by Peter Gloor, PhD

    Compared to other Western countries, infant mortality in the US is shockingly high. High infant mortality is a social problem that can only be solved through massive collaboration and out-of-the-box innovation.

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  • What Rosie Revere, Engineer Teaches Me About Innovation

    Posted February 19, 2014 by Marianne McPherson, PhD, MS

    I’ve been thinking about innovation a lot lately, in large part due to a renewed commitment at NICHQ to be a hub for creating and spreading innovations. I am so excited about this commitment because I know that new ideas and new approaches—and building them together—will help create a world in which all children achieve their optimal health.

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  • When Did Breastfeeding Become a Choice?

    Posted January 09, 2014 by Jennifer Ustianov, RN, BSN, IBCLC

    I know the tides are beginning to turn. Recent reports show breastfeeding rates are increasing in the US. The journey back to a more supportive breastfeeding culture has begun in this country. But I wonder whether there is more we can do to accelerate this process, so that from this generation forward there is no question and no need to choose.

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