(HealthDay News) — While the percentage of hospitals that send breastfeeding mothers home with formula packs has fallen dramatically during the last several years, about one-third of U.S. hospitals still do so, according to a study published online May 25 in Pediatrics.
The study examined survey responses from the Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care survey. The survey is administered every two years to all hospitals with registered maternity beds in the United States. The responses were drawn from surveys distributed from 2007 to 2013.
Results showed a reduction in the number of hospitals distributing formula packs to breastfeeding mothers. In 2007, there was only one state — Rhode Island — in which less than 25 percent of hospitals distributed formula packs to breastfeeding mothers, compared to 30 states in which more than 75 percent of hospitals distributed formula packs. By 2013, there were 24 states and territories where less than 25 percent of hospitals distributed formula packs to breastfeeding mothers and only two states — Iowa and South Dakota — where greater than 75 percent of hospitals distributed these packs. Overall, the percentage of hospitals distributing formula packs to breastfeeding mothers fell from 72.6 percent in 2007 to 31.6 percent in 2013.
The study authors noted that the decrease may be due to an increase of hospitals participating in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative. The initiative was launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization as a global effort to promote and support breastfeeding. Maternity care facilities with the “Baby-Friendly” designation have implemented hospital practices designed to provide optimal support for infant breastfeeding and abide by the WHO’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which discourages provision of formula discharge packs, according to the researchers.