November 2014 – The journal Breastfeeding Medicine published two articles by lactation experts at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. One article details human milk rates for infants born with congenital heart diseases, while the other discusses the positive outcomes of CHOP’s employee lactation program.
Babies with CHD
In “Human Milk and Breastfeeding Outcomes in Infants with Congenital Heart Disease,” authors Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN, Elizabeth B. Froh, PhD, RN, Amanda Seelhorst, RN, and Deborah L. Torowicz, MSN, RN, detail findings from a study of mothers and infants in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at CHOP.
The goal of the study was to find out how many women with infants hospitalized for congenital heart disease began pumping milk for their infants and what percentage of infants received human milk during their stay in CHOP's Cardiac Center. The study also described breastfeeding patterns for this population.
The researchers found that:
- The majority of women (89 percent) began pumping milk for their infants.
- On average, moms pumped five to six times per day and produced more than 500 milliliters of milk per day.
- Once infants started enteral feedings, more than 70 percent of their diet was human milk.
- Very few infants (13 percent) were able to directly feed at the breast before discharge from the Cardiac Center.
There was a significant difference in pumping initiation rates depending on where the mother delivered her infant. Mothers who gave birth in CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, designed for mothers carrying infants with known birth defects, were more likely to begin pumping their milk than those who gave birth at other hospitals (96 percent vs. 67 percent).
This major finding illustrates CHOP's predominantly strong human milk culture with all mothers in the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. Each mother receives a personalized one-on-one prenatal lactation consultation. Staff nurses in the Special Delivery Unit are committed to ensuring that all mothers have access to evidence-based information to make an informed choice to begin pumping for their child.
Employee Lactation Program
In “Outcomes of a Hospital-Based Employee Lactation Program,” authors Spatz, Froh, and Gabriella S. Kim, BSN, RN, describe the breastfeeding practices of employees at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — which has a comprehensive employee lactation program — with breastfeeding data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers confidentially contacted all employees who filed for maternity leave between 2007 and 2011, asking them to complete an electronic questionnaire. More than 540 women (40 percent) completed the survey.
Researchers found that:
- CHOP employees were more likely to begin breastfeeding their babies compared to national data (95 percent vs. 77 percent)
- At 6 months, significantly more CHOP employees were still breastfeeding compared to the national average (79 percent vs. 47 percent)
- At 1 year, employee breastfeeding continued to outpace national rates (32 percent vs. 26 percent)
- More than 20 percent of CHOP employees breastfed their infants for more than 12 months; there is no national data for comparison
The researchers concluded that CHOP’s employee lactation program can serve as a model for other institutions as the breastfeeding rates of the Hospital's employees exceed the Healthy People 2020 goals for breastfeeding initiation and duration.