Newborn falls in hospitals, while rare, may increase with rooming-in

[Reuters Health, 1/3/19]  Hospital efforts to support breastfeeding by having babies “room-in” with mothers may have a rare unintended consequence: an increased risk of newborn falls.

Neonatal falls are increasingly recognized as a postpartum safety risk, with as many as 1,600 newborn falls occurring in U.S. hospitals each year, researchers note in Pediatrics. While this represents a miniscule fraction of all births, doctors are increasingly concerned that at least some of these falls may be resulting from new mothers falling asleep while breastfeeding babies in their hospital beds.

To assess the potential for breastfeeding programs to influence the risk of newborn falls, researchers looked at three cases that happened after one hospital initiated several changes designed to support breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding.

“To encourage successful breastfeeding, it is important to keep mothers and babies together in one room, as much as possible,” said lead study author Dr. Colleen Hughes Driscoll of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“This practice is somewhat different from earlier decades when babies spent a significant part of the postpartum hospitalization in the nursery, away from their mother,” Driscoll said by email. “Though this separation was likely a barrier to successful breastfeeding, it may have provided additional opportunities for mothers to rest and recover.”…………

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