Effects of a ‘Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’ on exclusive breastfeeding rates at a private hospital in Lebanon: an interrupted time series analysis

Adrienne Clermont, Josianne El Gemayel, Rola Hammoud, Jiangxia Wang, Hortenzia Beciu, Mona Sinno, Wilma Berends, Nadine Rosenblum, Jessica L. Bienstock, Kristen Byrnes, Roger Samuels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) through six months of age has been scientifically validated as having a wide range of benefits, but remains infrequent in many countries. The WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is one approach to improve EBF rates. Methods: This study documents the implementation of BFHI at Clemenceau Medical Center (CMC), a private hospital in Lebanon, and analyzes data on EBF practices among CMC’s patients before, during, and after the implementation period. The process of launching the BFHI at CMC is discussed from the perspective of key stakeholders using the SQUIRE guidelines for reporting on quality improvement initiatives. As an objective measure of the program’s impact, 2,002 live births from July 2015 to February 2018 were included in an interrupted time series analysis measuring the rates of EBF at discharge prior to, during, and following the bundle of BFHI interventions. Results: The steps necessary to bring CMC in line with the BFHI standards were implemented during the period between November 2015 and February 2016. These steps can be grouped into three phases: updates to hospital policies and infrastructure (Phase 1); changes to healthcare staff practices (Phase 2); and improvements in patient education (Phase 3). The baseline percentage of EBF was 2.4 % of all live births. Following the BFHI intervention, the observed monthly change in EBF in the “Follow-Up” period (i.e., the 24 months following Phases 1–3) was significantly increased relative to the baseline period (+ 2.0 % points per month, p = 0.006). Overall, the observed rate of EBF at hospital discharge increased from 2.4 to 49.0 % of all live births from the first to the final month of recorded data. Conclusions: Meeting the BFHI standards is a complex process for a health facility, requiring changes to policies, practices, and infrastructure. Despite many challenges, the results of the interrupted time series analysis indicate that the BFHI reforms were successful in increasing the EBF rate among CMC’s patients and sustaining that rate over time. These results further support the importance of the hospital environment and health provider practices in breastfeeding promotion, ultimately improving the health, growth, and development of newborns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number385
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Breastfeeding
  • Lebanon
  • Maternity Care
  • Neonatal care
  • Quality Improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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