May 23, 2024

Local Non-Profit Wins Award from HHS

Baby Cafe is one of Five Organizations Recognized for their Work


HHS Office on Women’s Health Announces Final Phase Winners in Challenge to Address Breastfeeding Disparities

Wakefield, MA – Baby Café USA (BCUSA), the non-profit organization whose mission is to improve community health and reduce disparities with its free breastfeeding support programs is one of five organizations awarded prizes by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH.)

The national competition was created to identify and reward programs that increase breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates – and decrease disparities – among breastfeeding mothers in the United States. To ensure infants receive the short and long-term benefits of breastmilk, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months and to continue for 2 years or longer with added complementary foods. Despite the recommendations, the CDC reports that while 82% of all U.S. mothers start breastfeeding at birth, only 25% reach the recommended goal of breastfeeding exclusively at 6 months, adding more than $3 billion a year in medical costs for the United States. The lowest breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are in underserved populations.

“As we work to implement the Biden-Harris administration’s Maternal Health Blueprint for mothers and families, I strongly emphasize the importance of breastfeeding for both mother and the baby throughout the child’s growth and developmental process,” said Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services. Breastfeeding lowers an infant's risks of developing asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, severe lower respiratory disease, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfeeding mothers also have lower risks of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and postpartum depression.

Lucia Jenkins, founder and executive director of the self-funded Baby Café USA states, “Recognition from the U.S, Health administration validates the success of the model we developed and implemented, and the prize money provides well-needed funds to continue our work.” She highlights the challenges breastfeeding mothers encounter, particularly those returning to work, emphasizing the necessity of professional intervention and peer support within the first 6 months. Jenkins continues, “Timely access to both free professional care and experienced peer support is necessary for breastfeeding success. The Baby Café model is reliable, welcoming, attractive to parents, and utilizes available community resources making it an effective and inexpensive public health program.”

The HHS initiative had three phases with 15 finalists chosen after phases I and II. After completing phase III, five organizations were awarded the prize. Each phase examined data and statistics collected by the applicants. Winners demonstrated statistical significance increasing rates of initiation and/or duration of breastfeeding, and effectiveness addressing racial/ethnic disparities among breastfeeding mothers. They successfully replicated and/or expanded their program geographically, clinically, and/or by increasing the program’s size and/or reach. All five winning organizations will receive a prize of up to $55,000.

Here is some of the data Baby Café reported as well as their significant impact:

Baby Cafés have grown in number from the first one in Melrose, Massachusetts in 2006, to over 150 Cafés in 24 states. The number of annual overall face-to face contacts reported in 2023 was over 19,000.

All Baby Cafés follow a well-documented set of standards, are facilitated by International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and are located in easily accessed public spaces.

Baby Café facilitators gather demographic, attendance, and outcome data from attending mothers, which is then analyzed by BCUSA to evaluate the impact of the program and success reaching populations facing economic, racial, and ethnic disparities.

Ms. Jenkins published a study demonstrating that despite substantial socio-economic differences in 2 separate Café populations, 58% of the total mothers met the 12-month breastfeeding duration goal, which is significantly higher than the national CDC rate of 35.9% (p

breastfeeding, women's issues, women's health, new mothers, non-profit, Wakefield


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Truly local news delivered to every home in town