Antelope Valley Hospital was among 90 hospitals selected to participate in Best Fed Beginnings, an innovative national effort to improve breastfeeding rates in states where they are currently lowest.

The 22-month learning collaborative strives to improve maternity care services to achieve a "Baby-Friendly" designation, AVH said in a statement.

Through a cooperative funding agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Initiative for Children's Healthcare Quality is leading the effort, the hospital said.

"We recognize that for women who plan to breastfeed, the hospital experience strongly influences a mother's ability to start and continue breastfeeding,” said Edward Mirzabegian, CEO of AVH. “We are committed to implementing evidence-based care through the Baby-Friendly designation process. This will ensure that mothers delivering in our facility who intend to breastfeed are fully supported."

According to the CDC, half of U.S.-born babies are given formula within the first week, and by nine months only 31 percent of babies are breastfeeding at all, the hospital said.

Leah Gillis