Weather Forecast


Health notes: Being baby-friendly

The Minnesota Department of Health is urging the state’s hospitals and birth centers to become more baby-friendly by supporting breastfeeding.

In a news release, the agency cites studies estimating that if 90 percent of women breastfed exclusively during the first six months and up to a year or more with complementary foods, the U.S. would save $13 billion annually in health care costs for mothers and infants. But in Minnesota, only 23.5 percent of moms reach that standard, it said.

Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger is urging hospitals to implement 10 steps to encourage breastfeeding, including:

  • Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  • Allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

Five Minnesota hospitals — in Austin, Minneapolis, Woodbury, St. Paul and Maplewood — have met international breastfeeding support standards set by Baby-Friendly USA, the news release said.

Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center signed a “Baby-Friendly Hospital” letter of intent in early January, according to Jamie Harvie of Duluth, coordinator of the Commons Health Hospital Challenge. That made it the first hospital in the state to achieve all three criteria, also eliminating the sale of sugary beverages and committing to serving locally grown food. At the time, Essentia announced that 83 percent of new moms at St. Mary’s Birthplace were choosing to breastfeed.