Breastfeeding disparities sharp in Chicago-area hospitals

March 14, 2011

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(Getty/Larry Williams)

New figures show a wide disparity among Chicago-area hospitals when it comes to promoting breastfeeding.

The Illinois Department of Public Health compiled birth-certificate data about breastfeeding for the first nine months of last year. WBEZ compared the 49 hospitals (see below) that deliver babies in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

Three hospitals on Chicago’s South Side got fewer than 15 percent of newborns to breastfeed by the time they went home. On the North Side, Swedish Covenant got almost 98 percent of newborns to breast-feed.

Rachel Abramson, executive director of Chicago-based HealthConnect One, explains how the successful hospitals do it. “They begin breastfeeding within an hour after delivery,” says Abramson, whose group promotes maternal and child health.

“They give the infant only breast milk in the hospital, no bottles of formula or sugar water,” she adds. “They do not give pacifiers. And they give no gift packs — formula samples — to the mothers when they leave the hospital.”

Breastfeeding helps babies and mothers avoid chronic diseases.

  HOSPITAL (CITY)

 NEWBORNS
 BREASTFEEDING
 UPON DISCHARGE  
Swedish Covenant Hospital (Chicago)97.84%
Norwegian American Hospital (Chicago)96.89%
Northwest Community Hospital (Arlington Heights)96.44%
Central DuPage Hospital (Winfield)95.93%
Alexian Brothers Medical Center (Elk Grove Village)91.57%
Adventist Hinsdale Hospital (Hinsdale)89.96%
Edward Hospital (Naperville)89.58%
Delnor-community Hospital (Geneva)87.93%
St. Alexius Medical Center (Hoffman Estates)87.89%
Sherman Hospital (Elgin)87.67%
Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital (Downers Grove)87.57%
Elmhurst Memorial Hospital (Elmhurst)86.93%
Resurrection Medical Center (Chicago)85.14%
St. Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center (Chicago)82.94%
Rush-Copley Medical Center (Aurora)82.43%
Evanston Hosp. Northshore Univ. Health System (Evanston)82.05%
Palos Community Hospital (Palos Heights)79.09%
Advocate Christ Medical Center (Oak Lawn)78.59%
Loyola Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (Melrose Park)78.14%
Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital (La Grange)77.80%
Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center (Chicago)74.86%
Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago)72.89%
Rush University Medical Center (Chicago)70.96%
St. Joseph Hospital (Chicago)70.32%
Provena Mercy Medical Center (Aurora)70.19%
Westlake Hospital (Melrose Park)68.18%
Mercy Hospital and Medical Center (Chicago)67.37%
Advocate Lutheran General Hospital (Park Ridge)66.98%
MacNeal Hospital (Berwyn)66.93%
St. James Hospital and Health Centers (Chicago Heights)65.36%
University of Illinois Medical Center-Chicago (Chicago)64.98%
Little Company of Mary Hospital (Evergreen Park)63.20%
Advocate South Suburban Hospital (Hazel Crest)62.46%
University of Chicago Medical Center (Chicago)61.08%
Advocate Trinity Hospital (Chicago)59.10%
West Suburban Medical Center (Oak Park)58.66%
John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital (Chicago)58.49%
Loyola University Medical Center (Maywood)57.49%
Adventist GlenOaks Hospital (Glendale Heights)54.86%
St. Francis Hospital (Evanston)54.36%
Mount Sinai Hospital (Chicago)51.57%
Metro South Medical Center (Blue Island)45.03%
Provident Hospital of Cook County (Chicago)39.17%
Ingalls Memorial Hospital (Harvey)30.51%
St. Bernard Hospital (Chicago)25.60%
St. Anthony Hospital (Chicago)19.73%
Jackson Park Hospital and Medical Center (Chicago)14.29%
Roseland Community Hospital (Chicago)13.43%
Holy Cross Hospital (Chicago)10.20%

Source: WBEZ analysis of January-September 2010 birth-certificate data compiled by the Illinois Department of Public Health for the “Illinois Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care.”