Philadelphia Department of Public Health Uses AHRQ Report to Promote Breastfeeding

Comparative Effectiveness
September 2008

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is using AHRQ's Evidence Report No. 153, Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries, in its efforts to promote breastfeeding. Through the Department's Division of Maternal, Child and Family Health, the evidence report is being used as both a resource and a teaching tool.

Nikki Lee, RN, MS, lactation consultant for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, teaches an 18-hour breastfeeding course using data from the AHRQ evidence report. The three-day course is taught four times a year to health workers across the country focusing on evidence-based information that maternity staff need in order to support and promote breastfeeding.

Lee says, "What makes this [evidence] report such a gem is that it talks about breastfeeding in developed nations. I have encountered a bias about breastfeeding research that indicates the conclusions only apply to women and babies in third-world countries. Having the AHRQ evidence report to show that breastfeeding is good for everyone-including those in developed nations-is important."

Course participants are taught to understand the association between a lack of breastfeeding and both acute and chronic disease for babies, as well as increased health risks for the mothers. Continuing education contact hours are provided from the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association for the course.

The outline for the 18-hour course comes from Baby-Friendly USA, an organization that administers the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in the U.S. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is an international program sponsored by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund to recognize hospitals and birthing centers that promote, protect, and support lactation. The course fulfills a requirement for the Baby-Friendly process.

The AHRQ evidence report is also used as a resource by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. It is given to all the physicians, midwives, and interested health workers Lee encounters. "My work takes me to nursing schools and various residency programs, as well as to community agencies. Giving this lovely report to physicians gets their attention and makes an excellent impression. Providing the report to future practitioners catches them at a receptive time in their learning. Planting the best seeds in their gardens-the information from this report-has a positive impact on their practice and will have an impact on the future health of our nation."

In addition to conducting educational programs about breastfeeding for staff from other programs in the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Lee is also a resource for the local professional community of lactation consultants. She says, "The AHRQ evidence report helps me model best practices by making recommendations based on evidence."

The Evidence Report was prepared for AHRQ by the AHRQ Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center in Boston.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Evidence Report
Topics(s): Women, Children/Adolescents
Geographic Location: Pennsylvania
Implementer: Philadelphia Department of Public Health
Date: 09/01/2008

Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No, 153. AHRQ Publication No. 07-E007. Rockville, MD. April 2007. Contract No. 290-02-0022.


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