Jamaica Hospital Aims to Improve Low Breastfeeding Rates in the Community

July 25, 2017 (Jamaica, NY) ‰ÛÓ Statistics provided by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) show that exclusive breastfeeding rates in the City are low; especially among women who live in areas of Southwest Queens which has one of the lowest rates in the nation. Data indicates that while over 80% of women living in New York City initiated breastfeeding approximately only 30% of mothers continued to breastfeed exclusively within the first few weeks of their baby‰Ûªs lives.

The disparity in these rates is a public health concern as The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for at least the first six months of their lives. Breastfeeding provides the optimal nutrition needed to support a child‰Ûªs development and reduce the occurrence of health problems such as asthma (10% of children living in New York City have a diagnosis of asthma) as well as other medical conditions including diabetes and obesity.

‰ÛÏThe gap in these numbers does raise concern; however, we can make improvements and address inequities in our population‰Ûªs health early in life by encouraging exclusive breastfeeding, ‰ÛÏstates Marge Lilienthal, Director of Nursing at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. ‰ÛÏJamaica Hospital has implemented several community initiatives to tackle this problem. ‰Û

Jamaica Hospital which delivered over 2,200 babies in 2016 has enhanced policies and practices to support breastfeeding mothers. ‰ÛÏOur devotion to bridging the gap is reflected in our increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates which have grown from less than 5% to an impressive 46% over a few years,‰Û shares Lilienthal.

As part of its mission to increase the percentages in exclusive breastfeeding, Jamaica Hospital offers women who choose to breastfeed several educational, clinical and social programs created to provide support during and after pregnancy. Last year, the administration and staff proudly opened a lactation lounge for all moms visiting and working at the hospital to utilize. Jamaica Hospital has also partnered with key health agencies such NYC DOHMH -New York City Breastfeeding Hospital Collaborative to amplify its community outreach initiatives. ‰ÛÏWe hope to keep communication constant with parents in our community. In fact we are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week by hosting a baby shower for moms who live in our area and our team of nurses and lactation consultants will discuss the many benefits of breastfeeding,‰Û states Paula Utilla, Lactation Consultant.

Jamaica Hospital was recently awarded Baby- Friendly USAå¨ designation- a prestigious and internationally recognized initiative. As a Baby- Friendlyå¨ institution, the hospital upholds the strict breastfeeding requirements and guidelines set in place by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). ‰ÛÏWe are proud to receive this recognition. Only 21% of hospitals nationwide are Baby-Friendlyå¨ and it is an honor to be a part of that. The designation is a result of our mission to provide our community with quality care, encourage mother-infant bonding and offer a comfortable environment for breastfeeding moms,‰Û states Dr. Steven Inglis, Jamaica Hospital Chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology. ‰Û

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Jamaica Hospital Medical Center serves a population greater than 1.2 million in Queens and Eastern Brooklyn. This 408-bed medical center is an accredited community teaching hospital with a large network of community-based ambulatory care centers. JHMC offers an array of acute inpatient, rehabilitation and mental health services, and is one of the busiest Level 1 trauma centers in New York City. The hospital provides general medical, pediatric and Ob/Gyn services. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center‰Ûªs mission is to serve patients and the community in a way that is second to none. For additional information, please contact Public Affairs at 718-206-6020.

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