CHAMPS wins final phase of the HHS Office on Women’s Health Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Innovation Challenge

Mississippi CHAMPS, a program of CHEER, has won a third consecutive national award for reducing racial disparities in breastfeeding. MS CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices) is one of only five US programs to receive the Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Innovation Challenge Phase 3 award, created by the Office on Women’s Health to reward programs that increase breastfeeding rates, decrease disparities, and successfully expand in the United States. After winning a Phase 1 award in 2021 and a Phase 2 award in 2023, CHAMPS has now received all three prizes in the challenge, totaling $100,000.

“We’re really proud of this achievement, and most of all, of what it means for the mothers and babies of Mississippi,” says Anne Merewood, PhD, MPH, Director of the CHAMPS program.

Since MS CHAMPS launched, the average rate of breastfeeding initiation at enrolled hospitals increased from 56% in 2015 (when data collection began) to 69% in 2023, and the average rate of exclusive breastfeeding increased from 26% to 40%. The rate of breastfeeding initiation for Black mother-infant dyads increased 15 percentage points, from 42% in 2015 to 57% in 2023, and the rate of breastfeeding exclusivity for Black mother-infant dyads increased 16 percentage points, from 14% to 30%. Critically, the gap in breastfeeding initiation between Black and White mother-infant dyads narrowed by 0.05 percentage points each month.

Expanding steadily, CHAMPS has worked with American Indian/Alaska Native populations, states in the South, and especially Mississippi, where the number of Baby-Friendly designated hospitals increased from 0 to 29, with over 75% of the state’s births now in Baby-Friendly hospitals. In September 2023, CHAMPS’ work was also recognized by a $6,000,000 cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand the program and enroll 100 hospitals across the nation.

Read the press release to learn more.