OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate a multihospital collaborative designed to increase breast milk feeding in premature infants.

METHODS:

Eleven NICUs in the California Perinatal Quality of Care Collaborative participated in an Institute for Healthcare Improvement–style collaborative to increase NICU breast milk feeding rates. Multiple interventions were recommended with participating sites implementing a self-selected combination of these interventions. Breast milk feeding rates were compared between baseline (October 2008–September 2009), implementation (October 2009–September 2010), and sustainability periods (October 2010–March 2011). Secondary outcome measures included necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) rates and lengths of stay. California Perinatal Quality of Care Collaborative hospitals not participating in the project served as a control population.

RESULTS:

The breast milk feeding rate in the intervention sites improved from baseline (54.6%) to intervention period (61.7%; P = .005) with sustained improvement over 6 months postintervention (64.0%; P = .003). NEC rates decreased from baseline (7.0%) to intervention period (4.3%; P = .022) to sustainability period (2.4%; P < .0001). Length of stay increased during the intervention but returned to baseline levels in the sustainability period. Control hospitals had higher rates of breast milk feeding at baseline (64.2% control vs 54.6% participants, P < .0001), but over the course of the implementation (65.7% vs 61.7%, P = .049) and sustainability periods (67.7% vs 64.0%, P = .199), participants improved to similar rates as the control group.

CONCLUSIONS:

Implementation of a breast milk/nutrition change package by an 11-site collaborative resulted in an increase in breast milk feeding and decrease in NEC that was sustained over an 18-month period.

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