January 15, 2013 12:36 ET

Breastfeeding Gets Boost in Texas

First 20 Hospitals Selected for Five-Year State Project to Increase Rates; Up to 81 Will Participate

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - Jan 15, 2013) - NICHQ (the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) today announced a project aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates in the Lone Star State. The "Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative" is being kicked off by 20 hospitals/birthing facilities that have been selected to join this five-year quality improvement project designed to improve facility environments to better support a mother's choice to breastfeed. Texas has one of the lowest rates in the US, with only 13.7 percent of mothers exclusively breastfeeding for six months. This effort aims to help reverse this trend and will expand to more than 80 additional facilities in Texas over the next two years.

The Texas Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative is being led by NICHQ and is funded by the DSHS and the Texas Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

Mike Montgomery is program director for the Texas WIC. He said, "What's driving this project is the need to improve maternity and infant care in birthing facilities. We want to make sure we can sustain change by building quality improvement capacity at these facilities. It will start with these first 20 facilities and grow from there."

A list of the 20 birthing facilities selected to participate can be found here:

NICHQ was selected to lead this program because of its experience running other projects designed to improve breastfeeding rates, including the national program "Best Fed Beginnings," which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NICHQ President and CEO Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, said, "Although many women want to breastfeed their infants, many are not successful. This program will help hospitals give mothers and their infants a greater chance to succeed in their chosen feeding method."

What distinguishes this new project is collaboration. What these hospitals learn will be shared among other participants, helping more mothers across the state become more successful in exclusively breastfeeding their babies. The project aligns with the Texas Ten Step Program, a statewide effort to improve infant health and increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding. 

It is well documented that breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for infants and mothers. For infants, it decreases the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, reduces mortality, and optimally supports neurodevelopment. It also decreases infants' risk of becoming obese later in childhood. For mothers, breastfeeding diminishes the risks of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. According to NICHQ, since Texas has the second largest population of children in the entire country, it has the opportunity to be a leader in improving breastfeeding rates nationwide.

NICHQ (National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality) is an independent, nonprofit organization working for more than a decade to make children's health and healthcare better through quality improvement.

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