The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) promotes the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (WHO Code) and the WHO/UNICEF's Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (Ten Steps). The purpose of this study is to describe and compare maternity hospitals' adherence to the BFHI in 1993 and 2007 for Canada and for each province and territory.
A survey of all Canadian maternity hospitals was conducted in 1993 and 2007 on routine maternity care practices and policies including infant feeding.
The overall response rate was 91 percent (n = 523/572 hospitals) in 1993 and 92 percent (n = 323/353 hospitals) in 2007. Eighty-two percent (415/507) of hospitals in 1993 and 68 percent (198/292) in 2007 had exclusive contracts with formula companies. Fifty-eight percent (302/517) of hospitals in 1993 and 90 percent (289/322) in 2007 never gave breastfeeding mothers sample packs containing formula. Fifty-eight percent (296/507) in 1993 and 85 percent (273/321) in 2007 had written breastfeeding policies (Step 1); 97 percent (503/518) in 1993 and 99 percent (320/322) in 2007 allowed mothers to breastfeed, on cue, whenever the babies indicated an interest 24 hours a day (Step 8); 24 percent (126/519) in 1993 and 64 percent (206/321) in 2007 reported that they did not provide soothers (Step 9); 58 percent (297/513) in 1993 and 68 percent (215/316) in 2007 always offered information on breastfeeding support groups and/or advice at time of discharge (Step 10).
In the 14 years separating the two surveys, Canadian maternity hospitals substantially improved their implementation of the WHO Code and their adherence to the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps.