Minister O’Malley presents international breastfeeding award to Limerick Maternity Hospital
Today Mr. Tim O’Malley T.D., Minister for State at the Department of Health and Children, presented Limerick Maternity Hospital with the prestigious National UNICEF and World Health Organisation (WHO) ‘Baby Friendly’ Hospital Breastfeeding Award. Limerick Maternity Hospital is only the third maternity hospital in the State to achieve this award and it is the first midwifery teaching hospital to do so.
“Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants and as such it deserves all our support” Minister O’ Malley said at the presentation.
Minister O’Malley went on to point out that breastfeeding provides a critical window of opportunity to provide optimal health and development for children not just in the short term but for life long health too. This is because breastfeeding not only offers protection against infections and illnesses prevalent in childhood but research is now showing that breastfeeding in early childhood leads to a reduced risk of developing heart disease, obesity and diabetes in adulthood as well.
A National WHO/UNICEF ‘Baby Friendly’ Hospital award means that Limerick Maternity Hospital has put in place the major institutional and clinical practice changes required by this Initiative to better promote, support and protect breastfeeding. These changes, known as the ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding’, are soundly research based and have been proven to be effective at reversing the trend away from breastfeeding in other countries across the world.
Minister O’Malley also said that to date “over 19,000 hospitals in 148 countries have achieved the high standards necessary to be awarded ‘Baby Friendly Hospital designation and Limerick Maternity Hospital can now be honourably counted among these hospitals”.