Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has awarded $530,700 to Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI) to continue its work to promote safe breastfeeding and education services. CGBI, which is based in the maternal and child health department at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, will use the investment funds to support 61 North Carolina hospitals in their journeys to become “Baby-Friendly.”
A hospital’s becoming Baby-Friendly involves administrative costs. As a result, many capable facilities cannot afford to pursue designation, particularly if they are in rural service areas.
The funds from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will alleviate the cost of Baby-Friendly designation by covering some costs of the program for 61 hospitals located in rural or underserved North Carolina communities. By achieving baby-friendly designation status at those hospitals, about 76,000 babies will benefit from positive, long-term health impacts such as lowered risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and high blood pressure as adults.
“We are so appreciative of the investment Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has made toward our ENRICH Carolinas work,” said Ms. Catherine Sullivan, assistant professor of maternal and child health at the Gillings School and CGBI director. “This gift will allow us to advance optimal maternity care practices throughout our state, improving the lives of our youngest North Carolinians.”
The CGBI grant is part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s investment of $2.2 million to improve maternal and infant health across the state. Other organizations receiving grants include Family Connects, and the Nurse-Family Partnership.
The funds will support family health assistance programs in communities in more than 25 North Carolina counties. The programs will improve the health outcomes of children and young families in the state by educating and nurturing first-time mothers, providing wellness services for young families and supporting the baby-friendly designation status of local hospitals, a global recognition marking excellence in maternity services and breastfeeding resources.
“For maternal and newborn health, knowledge is a powerful and lifesaving tool,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “Increasing access to prenatal resources and postnatal support in our communities is a vital part of empowering and improving the health and outlook of North Carolina’s families.”
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD) has linked poor prenatal and postnatal care to physical, mental and emotional health complications for both the mother and child. By focusing on the proper education of young mothers and effectively supporting their time in the hospital before, during and after the birthing process, the three organizations awarded grants will prepare North Carolina mothers and their children for a healthier future.
[Photo: Ms. Catherine Sullivan (left) leads UNC’s Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute]