Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital Earns ‘Baby-Friendly’ Designation|
ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital became the fifth hospital in Texas to earn the World Health Organization’s “Baby-Friendly” designation, an honor that recognizes a comprehensive approach to supporting breastfeeding of newborns. Four other Texas Health hospitals hold the designation. There are 86 “Baby Friendly” hospitals nationwide.
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is an international program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) designed to encourage and acknowledge hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for lactation.
“This designation means we have established a standard of excellence for giving pregnant women and new mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to experience one of the greatest joys of motherhood: breastfeeding,” said Lori Bethel, the hospital’s director of women’s services.
According to the March of Dimes Foundation, children who are breastfed have fewer illnesses such as ear infections, lower respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections than children who receive formula. After implementing the Baby Friendly initiative, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford saw a 58 percent decrease in hospital readmission from 2008 to 2009 for hyperbilirubinemia, a condition that causes jaundice in infants.
“This data is very significant and exciting, and confirms what we knew to be true about one of the many benefits of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative for our patient families,” said Laura Burnett, nursing supervisor of the nursery at Texas Health HEB.
To achieve Baby-Friendly status, hospitals must successfully implement and follow 10 steps outlined by the program. These include starting breastfeeding in the first hour of life, giving employees extensive training, and giving mom and baby the option of “rooming in” or providing outpatient support after discharge.
“I am proud of each one of our clinicians and the physicians on the medical staff who worked diligently on implementing the steps to becoming a ‘Baby Friendly Hospital’,” said Kirk King, president of Texas Health Arlington Memorial. “This accolade compliments our 'Mother Friendly' philosophy and reflects our commitment to offering an exceptional birthing experience for our moms and their families.”
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