Kaiser Permanente's Care Delivery and Research Support Breastfeeding to Promote Healthy Families

Friday, August 13, 2010 Research News
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National Breastfeeding Month highlights importance of breastfeeding.

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and 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 exclusively.  Kaiser Permanente, with more than 90,000 births in 2009, uses its integrated care delivery model to help mothers understand the benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and child and support the mother's infant feeding decision.

"Kaiser Permanente physicians have the unique opportunity to put the patient at the center of every decision," said Edward Martin, MD, Kaiser Permanente Northern California chair of the chiefs of pediatrics and recent panelist at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine's 2nd Annual Summit on Breastfeeding. "Supported by obstetricians, midwives, pediatricians, nurses, lactation consultants and midwives who are all connected to each other by state-of-the-art electronic medical records, our care providers have immediate access to patients' medical information so members are assured they are receiving coordinated, high-quality care"

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 evaluate for potential problems. The preferences outlined in the birth plan are respected by the staff.  Breastfeeding classes and referral to a lactation consultant are all parts of Kaiser Permanente's comprehensive prenatal care.

In its 2007 National Survey of Maternal Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed six hospital practices that have been shown to promote exclusive breastfeeding, and which Kaiser Permanente supports. These include skin-to skin contact, teaching about breastfeeding, early and frequent breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, rooming-in and active follow-up after discharge.

Kaiser Permanente hospitals in the California cities of Hayward, South Sacramento, Fontana, Riverside and Downey, as well as hospitals in Honolulu, Hawaii and Clackamas, Ore. are recognized as Baby Friendly Hospitals by Baby-Friendly USA, the national 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.

Additionally, Kaiser Permanente supports research into the benefits of breastfeeding and in the past year has had two researchers published on the topic.

  • A study published in the February issue of Diabetes found that breastfeeding a child may protect women from metabolic syndrome, a condition linked to diabetes and heart disease. The protective association was even stronger for women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, according to the study's lead author, Erica Gunderson, PhD, an epidemiologist and research scientist at Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research  in Oakland, Calif. http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter/pressreleases/nat/2009/120309breastfeedingbenefits.html
  • A study published in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology found that breastfeeding may benefit mothers with multiple sclerosis. Women with multiple sclerosis who breastfeed exclusively for at least two months appear less likely to experience a relapse within a year after their baby's birth. Neurologist Annette Langer-Gould, MD, Ph.D., lead author of the study conducted while at Stanford University, is now a researcher with Kaiser Permanente's Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena, Calif. http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter/pressreleases/scal/2009/060809breastfeedinghelpsms.html

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 to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 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.

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente

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