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February 28, 2013

Training program to promote breastfeeding available nationwide

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To support a nationwide initiative to increase breastfeeding rates, University of Virginia School of Medicine is making available nationally a training program that teaches hospitals and healthcare professionals how to support new moms that want to breastfeed.

“Research has shown that breastfeeding can improve the health of both mothers and babies ,” said Ann Kellams, MD , director of UVA’s newborn nursery. “By better educating physicians, nurses and other healthcare staff, we hope to help increase breastfeeding rates at hospitals across the country.”

Track Record of Success

UVA is teaming with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), HIT-Global, Scitent and Telligen to run the Breastfeeding Friendly Consortium . The consortium grew out of two VDH-funded online programs – and – created through the UVA Office of Continuing Medical Education to increase breastfeeding among Virginia mothers. These programs have had a significant impact; more than 1,200 healthcare professionals per month used, while enrolled more than 600 physicians over the past 18 months.

A survey of 162 physicians who completed the performance-improvement activities on reported a 15.9 percent improvement in mothers who breastfed exclusively, said Tamara Eberly, project manager in the UVA Office of Continuing Medical Education.

How the Program Works

The Breastfeeding Friendly Consortium includes training courses, performance improvement plans and performance measurement tools to help hospitals and healthcare workers successfully implement the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative’s 10 Steps for Successful Breastfeeding .

The program’s educational content is endorsed by the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and meets the requirements for the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations can use the website to assign staff to training and track their progress, said Jann Balmer, Director of Continuing Medical Education at UVA.

Since its launch in early February, the Breastfeeding Friendly Consortium has already drawn interest from about 40 healthcare organizations across the U.S. UVA Health System, as one of five Virginia hospitals selected to participate in the national “Best Fed Beginnings” program to increase breastfeeding rates, is already using the training program.

The program is free to healthcare professionals and institutions in Virginia; fees are charged to participants from outside Virginia. For more information, visit or call 877.514.2354 .

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