Compliance with the “Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative for Neonatal Wards” in 36 countries

The Neo-BFHI Survey Group, Amanda Smildzere (Member of the Working Group)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12690
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative
  • breastfeeding
  • lactation
  • monitoring
  • neonatal
  • preterm

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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