(Boston) – Boston Medical Center (BMC) has received a $1.5 million three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to increase breastfeeding rates, reduce disparities and improve maternity care practices in Mississippi through the Mississippi Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices (Mississippi CHAMPS) project. The support will go directly to BMC's Center for Health Equity, Education & Research (CHEER) to provide technical assistance to 32 Mississippi hospitals as they work toward achieving the Baby-Friendly designation.
Mississippi CHAMPS will build on CHEER's (formerly the Breastfeeding Center) previously funded project for 18 hospitals in the area – most of which had not begun the Baby-Friendly certification process before signing on with CHAMPS. The new funding will allow CHEER to expand support to an additional 14 hospitals in the state. The main partner in this work will be Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), an organization that promotes breastfeeding nationally in the African American community.
"We are grateful to the Kellogg Foundation for the opportunity to continue this work," said Anne Merewood, PhD, MPH, director of CHEER at BMC and associate professor of pediatrics at BU School of Medicine. "We are honored to work in Mississippi and are thrilled to support the hospitals and the community for three additional years."
Mississippi breastfeeding rates are among the lowest in the country, and its rates of obesity and diabetes are among the highest. CHEER will work to reduce these disparities by increasing the number of hospitals that fully support breastfeeding and the health of mothers and babies.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund to establish hospital environments that fully support breastfeeding. For a hospital to receive the designation, it must meet the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which includes practices such as rooming-in (allowing mothers and babies to remain together 24 hours a day in the hospital) and passing an external assessment. BMC was the first Baby-Friendly hospital in Massachusetts when it was designated in 1999.
In addition to Mississippi, the CHAMPS team has successfully promoted the BFHI in Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, New Jersey, and within Indian Health Service, Tribal and Alaska Native birthing facilities in Alaska, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Dr. Anne Merewood