Kaiser Permanente Commits to Support Breastfeeding as Key Strategy to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Commitment announced at Partnership for a Healthier America's inaugural summit

Nov 29, 2011, 12:52 ET from Kaiser Permanente

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Kaiser Permanente announced Tuesday it has signed a commitment with the Partnership for a Healthier America to support breastfeeding as a measure of hospital quality and a key strategy in preventing childhood obesity.

Kaiser Permanente believes that one of the most important choices a mother can make to promote the health of her family is to choose to breastfeed. With more than 96,000 births in 2010, Kaiser Permanente cares for more moms and babies than any other integrated health care system and uses its care delivery model to help mothers understand the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, and to support the decision to breastfeed whenever possible.

"At Kaiser Permanente, we are committed to giving every baby the healthiest start possible," said Edward Ellison, MD, executive medical director-elect, Kaiser Permanente Southern California region. "We believe in making the healthy choice the easy choice for mothers and families, so we are striving to support breastfeeding in our hospitals. We also promote and support breastfeeding as a key component of our comprehensive strategy to prevent childhood obesity."

Kaiser Permanente hospitals will demonstrate this bold commitment to breastfeeding in the following ways:

  • By January 1, 2013, all of Kaiser Permanente's 29 hospitals that offer maternal and child health services will be designated as Baby-Friendly, and/or participate in the Joint Commission's Perinatal Core Measures program, which requires participating hospitals to report their rates of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge.
  • Kaiser Permanente will establish a system-wide performance improvement program focusing on the development and implementation of evidence-based hospital breastfeeding practices.
  • Kaiser Permanente will develop and make publicly available a hospital breastfeeding practices guide that documents lessons learned and operational strategies that other systems can use to improve maternity care.
  • To ensure accountability, Kaiser Permanente will include rates of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge as a core quality measure on its Quality Dashboard, which will be reviewed on a quarterly basis along with other hospital quality measures.

"We know that the risk of obesity is much lower for children who are breastfed, and while we understand that breastfeeding is not a viable alternative for all mothers and babies, enabling more moms who want to breastfeed is critical to bringing down obesity rates," said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. "Kaiser Permanente's commitment to make breastfeeding a priority for each child born in one of their hospitals has potential to make a very big impact, and we're pleased they are such a strong partner in fighting childhood obesity."

Kaiser Permanente is a founding member of the Partnership for a Healthier America, and the two organizations share a common goal of affirming support for breastfeeding as an evidence-based intervention for childhood obesity prevention. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine and others have all identified breastfeeding as one of the most important actions families can take to prevent childhood obesity. A child who is breastfed has a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese as a child than a baby that is formula fed, studies have shown.

Kaiser Permanente encourages early entry into prenatal care and maternal care, and expectant mothers are encouraged to develop a birth plan to clearly indicate their intentions for feeding the baby. Advice about breastfeeding and other decisions related to a mother's plan are discussed at visits, and a breast examination is performed to check for potential problems. Preferences outlined in the birth plan are respected by the staff. Breastfeeding classes and referral to a lactation consultant are all part of Kaiser Permanente's comprehensive prenatal care. In addition, Kaiser Permanente supports a number of community-based efforts to promote breastfeeding.

Thirteen Kaiser Permanente hospitals are already recognized as Baby-Friendly Hospitals by Baby-Friendly USA, the authority for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the United States. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global effort to ensure hospital maternity services support breastfeeding. Kaiser Permanente hospitals have some of the highest rates of exclusive breastfeeding at discharge among hospitals included in existing public reports of those rates.

Kaiser Permanente brings together its clinical expertise, research capabilities and community engagement efforts to combat childhood obesity and to improve the health of its members and the communities it serves. The organization's Community Health Initiatives for Healthy Eating Active Living support more than 40 place-based obesity prevention collaboratives, which work with community residents, non-profit organizations and government agencies to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity in schools, neighborhoods and workplaces. And Kaiser Permanente pioneered efforts, such as BMI as a Vital Sign, that have become standards of practice in the health care sector. For more information, visit www.kp.org/communitybenefit.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.

About the Partnership for a Healthier America

The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is devoted to working with the private sector to ensure the health of our nation's youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. In 2010, PHA was created in conjunction with – but independent from – First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! effort. PHA is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that is led by some of the nation's most respected health and childhood obesity experts. PHA brings together public, private and nonprofit leaders to broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end childhood obesity. Most important, PHA ensures that commitments made are commitments kept by working with unbiased, third parties to monitor and publicly report on the progress our partners are making. For more information about PHA, please visit www.aHealthierAmerica.org and follow PHA on Twitter @PHAnews.


Susannah Patton, Kaiser Permanente, susannah.f.patton@kp.org, 510.421.1479;
Farra R Levin, Kaiser Permanente, farra.r.levin@kp.org, 510.267.7364
Elly Spinweber, Partnership for a Healthier America, espinweber@ahealthieramerica.org, 202.842.9001


SOURCE Kaiser Permanente