In 2012, the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative for Neonatal Wards (Neo-BFHI) began providing recommendations to improve breastfeeding support for preterm and ill infants. This cross-sectional survey aimed to measure compliance on a global level with the Neo-BFHI's expanded Ten Steps to successful breastfeeding and three Guiding Principles in neonatal wards. In 2017, the Neo-BFHI Self-Assessment questionnaire was used in 15 languages to collect data from neonatal wards of all levels of care. Answers were summarized into compliance scores ranging from 0 to 100 at the ward, country, and international levels. A total of 917 neonatal wards from 36 low-, middle-, and high-income countries from all continents participated. The median international overall score was 77, and median country overall scores ranged from 52 to 91. Guiding Principle 1 (respect for mothers), Step 5 (breastfeeding initiation and support), and Step 6 (human milk use) had the highest scores, 100, 88, and 88, respectively. Step 3 (antenatal information) and Step 7 (rooming-in) had the lowest scores, 63 and 67, respectively. High-income countries had significantly higher scores for Guiding Principles 2 (family-centered care), Step 4 (skin-to-skin contact), and Step 5. Neonatal wards in hospitals ever-designated Baby-friendly had significantly higher scores than those never designated. Sixty percent of managers stated they would like to obtain Neo-BFHI designation. Currently, Neo-BFHI recommendations are partly implemented in many countries. The high number of participating wards indicates international readiness to expand Baby-friendly standards to neonatal settings. Hospitals and governments should increase their efforts to better support breastfeeding in neonatal wards.
- Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative
Field of Science*
- 3.2 Clinical medicine
- 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database