Baby-Friendly NICU Designation

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Work has begun on a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) designation process.  A Multi-Disciplinary Task Force consisting of experts with a vast array of NICU backgrounds from across the country has been formed.  This Task Force is being led by Kathleen Marinelli, MD, IBCLC, FABM and is comprised of neonatologists, neonatal nurses, neonatal lactation consultants, neonatal nutritionists, neonatal neuro-development and developmental care specialists, epidemiologists, ethicists and Baby-Friendly designation experts. A virtual “kick-off meeting was held in July 2014 and the Task Force has been working diligently ever since.  A strong collaboration has been formed with the Nordic and Quebec Neo-BFHI working group described below.  The US initiative will be based on their extensive work on the three guiding principles and ten expanded steps to protect, promote and support breastfeeding .  Efforts are being made to adhere as closely possible to their work; however, adaptions will be made to address appropriate norms and unique challenges presented by the continuously evolving health care environment in the US.


In March 2009, The Nordic and Quebec working group was formed in Copenhagen, by health professionals from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Quebec, Canada to address the expansion of the BFHI to neonatal care. They have developed “Neo-BFHI” which closely follows the WHO/UNICEF 2009 update of the BFHI standards Global Criteria of BFHI’s Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  In addition they formulated Three Guiding Principles to ensure that the practices recommended focus on respect to mothers, a family-centered approach, and continuity of care.  In agreement with the BFHI, the adaptation also includes respect of the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes.  This working group has developed a unified expansion of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative to Neonatal Wards or “Neo-BFHI”, based on review of the evidence, expert opinion, and experiences in the Nordic countries and other countries around the world.

After publishing a preliminary version of their core document in 2013, they have just completed and made available on line a final version of Neo-BFHI The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative for Neonatal Wards: Three guiding principles and ten expanded steps to protect, promote and support breastfeeding (March 2015) in which more references have been added, with revisions of the standards and criteria with input from a member of our committee and many individuals globally.  The intent was to make this document available publicly before the 2nd International Neo-BFHI Conference being held in Uppsala, Sweden, May 19-20, 2015. (Some portions adapted from the ILCA NEO-BFHI page)

Check back for exciting updates and links which will be posted as we have them!

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