MIAMI — Jackson Memorial Hospital wants you to breast-feed your baby. Gone are commercially-sponsored formula samples in discharge bags from the maternity unit. Instead, expect to find Jackson’s own breastfeeding discharge bags.

Jackson is on the pathway to Baby-Friendly designation, a highly coveted breastfeeding support standard of care, promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Dr. M. Grisel Galarza, a University of Miami neonatologist who is medical director of the newborn intermediate care unit at Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, is a staunch advocate for breastfeeding and a champion of Jackson’s Baby-Friendly designation.

“Breastfeeding is best for babies,” Dr. Galarza said. “Baby-Friendly is best for the mothers in our community.”

Jackson is encouraging breastfeeding and eliminating the use of commercial formula bags. This is in line with recommendations by The American Academy of Pediatrics that women should breastfeed exclusively for six months because of the numerous health and economic benefits for both babies and mothers.

Research shows that breastfeeding shields infants from infections, and, later, higher risks of obesity, asthma, diabetes and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Mothers benefit from a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, obesity, ovarian cancer, post-partum depression and bladder infections. Research also shows that mothers who receive formula discharge bags from hospitals are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and if they do breastfeed they are more likely to do so for shorter durations.

For those reasons and others Jackson supports the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that breastfeeding should:

•Be continued exclusively for the first six months of life

•Continue through the first year of life with the addition of solid foods at six months

•Continue thereafter, for as long as mutually desired by the mother and child.

“Jackson deserves praise for setting a positive example for the nation’s hospitals – particularly public hospitals serving low-income families – in improving the health of mothers and their children through Baby Friendly and an end to formula promotion” said Margrete Strand Rangnes, executive vice president of Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy organization focused on health and safety.

The recommendation against formula bag distribution is supported not only by Public Citizen, but also by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WHO and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Baby-Friendly is about empowering mothers and fathers with the ability to give their babies the best possible start through education on the benefits of breastfeeding,” says Steven Burghart, chief administrative officer and senior vice president of Holtz Children’s Hospital and the Jackson Women’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “Jackson’s mission is to provide for the health care of our community and this is a major step in the right direction.”