Model Communities Grant Helps NCH Promote Benefits of Exclusive Breastfeeding

Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights has received a $65,000 federal grant under the Model Communities program to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months for optimal health benefits. The grant is a partnership project between the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago and the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Funding was received by 40 of 120 applicants in suburban Cook County that demonstrated the use of proven strategies to reduce obesity and chronic disease through healthy eating and physical activity. NCH was one of just two hospitals that earned grant money, which originated from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of a nationwide movement to promote healthy options.

NCH will use the grant for staff training related to its breastfeeding initiative. Breast milk provides an optimal mix of nutrients and antibodies that decrease the risk of childhood cancer and diabetes, adult obesity, high blood pressure, respiratory and ear infections, and other conditions.

Hospital staff will support exclusive breastfeeding by working with mothers to get baby to breast within one hour of delivery. Moms will be shown how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation if they are separated from their infants. With direction from highly educated nurses, mothers will develop the confidence and skills to continue breastfeeding their babies, or feed formula safely. NCH staff will train community-based bilingual counselors who will bring breastfeeding education to the Latino community and support women after delivery.

Breastfeeding helps more than just the nursing infants. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.

NCH’s efforts to promote breastfeeding fall in line with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that encourages exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Other organizations that support exclusive breastfeeding include the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Dietetic Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For more information about Northwest Community Hospital and its healthy programs, visit