Howard University Hospital Selected for Program to Promote Breast Feeding

WASHINGTON (Sept. 6, 2012)- Howard University Hospital has been selected from thousands of hospitals across the nation to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a national effort to improve and increase breastfeeding in the United States. Howard University is one of only 90 hospitals to participate in the program, part of the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare.

Howard University Hospital will make system level changes in order to become baby friendly as part of the 22-month program, which is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Howard University Hospital, will work with national breastfeeding and quality improvement experts to implement the "10 Steps to Successful Breast-Feeding” Baby Hospital Initiative. The steps include helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of childbirth, giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk and fostering breastfeeding support groups.

Studies show that breastfeeding provides a number of health benefits for mother and baby.

  • Beast milk protects children from a wide variety of aliments including ear infections, diarrhea, leukemia, and asthma.
  • Breast milk is easier for newborns to digest, especially premature babies.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the mother’s risk developing Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and postpartum depression.
  • Breastfeeding can save mothers upwards of $1,500 per year.
  • It also promotes a special emotional bond between mothers and infants.

Studies show that African-American women are the least likely among all ethnicities to breastfeed their newborn. The Center of Disease Control says African-American women lead the country with the highest infant mortality rate, 13.31 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Dr. Michal Young, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Howard University Hospital and Howard University College of Medicine, said breastfeeding has been proved to save children’s lives.

“It prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” said Young, also an associate professor at the College of Medicine.  “It enhances optimal health. It averts some of the causes of Type 1 and Type II diabetes, fights lymphoma and decreases the chances of obesity.

In the District of Columbia, only 14.8 percent of infants are being exclusively breastfed at six months of birth, according to the CDC’s 2012 Breastfeeding Report Card.
Gwendolyn West, a lactation consultant at Howard University Hospital, said many African-American women do not breastfeed because of persistent myths, such as breastfeeding is for a lower socio-economic level, that it is painful and can cause women’s breasts to lose shape.

About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 30 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University's Web site at

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