December 10, 2014

Indiana Moms and Babies to Benefit from New Breastfeeding Initiative

White Mother Nursing Child OutsideThe National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) and the Indiana State Department of Health are teaming up to increase breastfeeding rates in Indiana. The new project will provide the state with a roadmap for connecting and coordinating the state’s many public health, hospital and community efforts to ultimately drive a cultural shift in Indiana to increase exclusive breastfeeding.

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life can help protect infants from a host of infectious diseases and reduce infant mortality, a top priority for the state of Indiana. Despite the many benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and infants, only about 18.8 percent of American mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months. The Indiana state rate has improved in recent years, but is still lower than the national average, at 18.1 percent.

Increasingly more hospitals are becoming Baby-Friendly designated and the number of certified lactation consultants is growing in Indiana. However, exclusive breastfeeding rates have been slower to improve.

“It was an easy decision to engage NICHQ in our strategic planning process to take our breastfeeding goals from strategy to action to results. We have been inspired by their work with Best Fed Beginnings and other states like Texas and New York,” says Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, MD, MPH. “NICHQ has already proven to be a valuable partner as they walk with us through our strategic planning process. We are very excited about the energy and direction they are providing.”

NICHQ will work with the health department to determine the best method for increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates in the state. Specifically, NICHQ will develop a roadmap for a comprehensive program that links all of the state’s current breastfeeding initiatives together, mobilizes all the key public health, hospital and community stakeholders to have a major impact, and, ultimately, makes substantial progress toward improving outcomes for the more than 83,000 babies born each year in Indiana. NICHQ has already begun the work by conducting an assessment of the state environment, interviewing key stakeholders and bringing together state and national experts.

“People say there isn’t a lot of evidence behind most recommendations that are made to improve child health—but breastfeeding is the exception. We know that exclusive breastfeeding is good for the baby, good for that child’s later health and good for the mother,” says NICHQ President and CEO Charles Homer, MD, MPH. “NICHQ is excited to work with Indiana—as we are with others across the country-- to improve its exclusive breastfeeding rates and maternal and infant health.”

NICHQ has extensive experience conducting quality improvement projects to improve breastfeeding rates and maternity care practices. In addition to this project with Indiana, NICHQ is currently working with the New York State Department of Health and the Texas Department of State Health Services. NICHQ is also completing a three-year nationwide project called Best Fed Beginnings with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Baby-Friendly USA.

If you’d like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please call or email Cindy Hutter at or 617-391-2757.

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