Friday, February 16, 2007

The Big Apple Supports Breastfeeding

This story is a few days old, but the city of New York deserves a big thumbs up for their recent breastfeeding promotion effort. The New York Post has an article about the New York City Health Department's million dollar program to support and encourage breastfeeding. The program includes $2 million in hospital based breastfeeding promotion, $7 million to hire home visiting nurses,$4.5 million for an ad campaign (signs on buses and taxis, etc.) and training 50 health care workers in breastfeeding support. I am excited about the ad campaign and I think the city will probably do a very good job producing beautiful, multicultural public health pro-breastfeeding messages.

I am crossing my fingers about the rest of it however. The article said they will be taking the free formula "gift" bags (aka - Marketing Materials for drug companies) out of hospitals, possibly an attempt to be more Baby Friendly, and will replace the formula sponsored diaper bags with milk storage bags and ice packs. Will $2 million be enough to do that and hire enough staff? Are there regulations as to how the hospitals spend the money? Who decides?

The prospect of home health nurses is very exciting. That is an intervention that has been used in many populations to improve health outcomes. I hope that the nurses they hire actually have BREASTFEEDING training. Breastfeeding is not always covered in a basic nursing curriculum. I sincerely hope whomever is responsible for the administration of this program will make sure every home health visitor is trained in basic breastfeeding management.

I am sure what the thought plan is with training 50 health care workers to assist breastfeeding a city with over 8.1 million people...50 newly trained IBCLCs (I hope this is what they are alluding to)? Maybe per hospital, that would work. I am not sure what that means but it will be interesting to see if breastfeeding rates in New York city go up.

Here's hoping that throwing a bunch of money at breastfeeding promotion and support actually works and is executed well. If so, maybe other cities will follow.

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