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SBUH selected to participate in “Best Fed Beginnings” breastfeeding education project

Breastfeeding room for news release

SBUH selected to participate in “Best Fed Beginnings” breastfeeding education project

Only New York State hospital and among two hospitals in Northeastern United States selected for “Best Fed Beginnings” project

Breastfeeding room for news release
Stony Brook University Hospital is one of two hospitals in the Northeastern United States and the only New York State hospital selected to participate in “Best Fed Beginnings,” a national initiative to improve breastfeeding rates. At SBUH, 82 percent of mothers breastfeed while in the hospital, and 32 percent of moms use breastfeeding exclusively. Nationwide, only 31 percent of babies are breastfeeding at all by nine months of age.

STONY BROOK, N.Y., July 20, 2012 – Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) is one of 90 hospitals nationwide, the only hospital in New York State and one of only two hospitals in the Northeastern United States to be selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, a first-of-its-kind national effort to significantly improve breastfeeding rates in states where rates are currently the lowest.

Breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for both infants and mothers. For infants, it decreases the incidence and severity of many infectious diseases, reduces infant mortality, and optimally supports neurodevelopment. It also decreases infants’ risk of becoming obese later in childhood. For mothers, breastfeeding decreases the risks of breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.

At SBUH, 82 percent of mothers breastfeed while in the hospital, and 32 percent of moms use breastfeeding exclusively, according to Kathleen Van Deventer, RN, MS, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Lactation Coordinator. The hospital’s rate of exclusive breastfeeding has nearly tripled over the past two years.

To achieve that improvement, the hospital has been participating in the New York State Breast Feeding Quality Improvement in Hospital Learning Collaborative (NYSBQI), which has resulted in the establishment of several evidence-based practices to support exclusive breastfeeding, Van Deventer said. SBUH has made strides to promote exclusive breastfeeding through small tests of change, modeling behaviors for staff and sharing successes.

“Stony Brook is delighted to have been chosen to participate in this important effort and to have the opportunity to improve our maternity care services to better support breastfeeding,” said Lee Xippolitos, RN, PhD, Chief Nursing Officer, Stony Brook University Hospital, and Dean of the Stony Brook University School of Nursing. “We recognize that for women who plan to breastfeed, the hospital experience strongly influences a mother’s ability to start and continue breastfeeding. We are committed to implementing evidence-based care to ensure that mothers delivering in our facility who intend to breastfeed are fully supported.”

“This is a very important initiative for new mothers and their infants,” said Todd Griffin, MD, FACOG, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “Breastfeeding rates rise dramatically as patients are educated on the benefits of breastfeeding, so this initiative will help improve health outcomes for Long Island children who are born at Stony Brook.”

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive health measures for infants and mothers, but only half of US-born babies are given formula within the first week, according to the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ). By nine months of age, only 31 percent of babies are breastfeeding at all. Best Fed Beginnings seeks to reverse these trends by dramatically increasing the number of US hospitals implementing a proven model for maternity services that better supports a new mother’s choice to breastfeed. NICHQ is leading the effort through a cooperative funding agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will be working closely with Baby-Friendly USA, Inc.

The 90 hospitals participating in the initiative were selected from 235 applicants nationwide. They will work together in a 22-month learning collaborative process, using proven quality improvement methods to transform their maternity care services in pursuit of “Baby-Friendly” designation. This designation verifies that a hospital has comprehensively implemented the American Academy of Pediatrics-endorsed Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, as established in the WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. Breastfeeding rates are higher and disparities in these rates are virtually eliminated in hospitals that achieve this status.

“We look forward to working with Stony Brook and congratulate them on their successful application,” said Charlie Homer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of NICHQ. “The large number of applications we received affirms the commitment of hospitals across our country to be part of a healthcare system that truly focuses on promoting health for women and infants.”

Improving breastfeeding rates at Stony Brook has been a true team effort, said Sue Little, MS, RN, NP, Assistant Director of Nursing for Antepartum, Labor & Delivery and the Mother-Baby Unit. The project has brought the different perinatal unit staff together, she said, including Postpartum, Labor & Delivery, Antepartum, and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, to continue to change and improve hospital practices.

Exclusive Breastfeeding rates have been added to the hospital’s monthly “dashboard” of operational indicators, and breastfeeding is now a part of routine meetings of senior leadership and departmental units, Little said. The WIC program at Stony Brook, operated through the Department of Family Medicine, provides breastfeeding support through peer counselors. The hospital’s Nutrition Division provides information about best practices for infant feeding, and its Registered Dietitians and interns provide ongoing patient education.

“The support of senior hospital leadership led to our success with implementing the many practice changes we have accomplished,” Little said. “Elimination of baby formula gift packs and formula at discharge is just one example of how senior administration helped us accomplish this major change,” she said, citing the support of Margaret M. McGovern, MD, PhD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, and Physician-in-Chief, Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital, and J. Gerald Quirk, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Now Stony Brook is sharing its successes with other area hospitals throughout New York State.

“We were able to model the practice of Pediatric ‘room rounding’ for other hospitals in the NYSBQIH collaborative,” Van Deventer said. “This practice entails physician newborn examination in the mother’s room, which promotes non-separation, maternal education, family-centered care and role modeling for our residency staff.” To increase the amount of time moms spend with their babies, a “nighttime feeding plan” was developed in conjunction with the nursing staff of the Mother-Baby Unit. All infants participate in the feedings, regardless of whether they are being breastfed, in an effort to improve successful breastfeeding as well as to enhance maternal role transition and infant bonding.

Van Deventer also leads and organizes The Association of Lactation Providers on Long Island with quarterly meetings in which practice changes are shared with the other Long Island hospitals that were not in the NYSBQIH project. As a result of her efforts, many other hospitals across Long Island have begun to institute “skin to skin” after delivery, have eliminated the distribution of formula bags, and are working to implement a “non-separation of care” model after delivery.

Stony Brook has presented its work at conferences held by the NYSBQI and at the March of Dimes annual conference in New York City. In June, Stony Brook partnered with three other hospitals from the NYSBQI collaborative to present a workshop at the New York State Perinatal Association’s annual conference in Albany.

“Our hope for the future is to establish ourselves as a leader and mentor in our region and to collaborate with perinatal care providers and women within the community to increase knowledge related to the lifelong benefits to exclusive breastfeeding,” Van Deventer said.

“Our goal is to not only continue to sustain the practice changes that we accomplished,” Little said, “but to build on our accomplishments to increase our exclusive breastfeeding rates. We see the Best Fed Beginnings Project as being our next ‘best step’ to accomplishing this.”

Click here for a list of the 90 hospitals selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings.


About Stony Brook University Hospital

Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) is Long Island’s premier academic medical center. With 597 beds, SBUH serves as the region’s only tertiary care center and Level 1 Trauma Center, and is home to the Stony Brook Heart Institute, Stony Brook Cancer Center, Stony Brook Long Island Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook Neurosciences Institute, and Stony Brook Digestive Disorders Institute. SBUH also encompasses Suffolk County’s only Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center, state-designated AIDS Center, state-designated Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, state-designated Burn Center, the Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence, and Kidney Transplant Center. It is home of the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center. To learn more, visit

About the CDC

CDC works 24/7 saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money through prevention. Whether these threats are global or domestic, chronic or acute, curable or preventable, natural disaster or deliberate attack, CDC is the nation’s health protection agency.

Founded in 1999, the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) is an action-oriented organization dedicated to achieving a world in which all children receive the high-quality healthcare they need. Led by experienced pediatric healthcare professionals, NICHQ’s mission is to improve children’s health by improving the systems responsible for the delivery of children’s healthcare. For more information, visit

About Baby-Friendly USA

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother-baby bonding. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so. For more information, visit


© Stony Brook University 2012

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