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LATCH Program: Improving Lactation Support During NICU Stay

Purpose: Improve breastfeeding support and duration of lactation for mothers with infants in the NICU through counseling by medical students trained to become Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC’s).


Background: Institutions struggle to provide adequate lactation support for postpartum women despite well-known benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby, especially for those with infants in the NICU. Furthermore, medical school programs lack sufficient breastfeeding education. The Lactation Advocacy Through Continuous Help (LATCH) project at Albany Medical Center (AMC) was developed to provide support to lactating mothers and lactation education to medical students.


Methods: This project was approved by the IRB at AMC. Two students (Harkey, VanDerwerker) completed online CLC training through the Healthy Children Project, Inc. and passed the CLC exam. Students will initially meet with mothers of infants admitted to the AMC NICU at < 33 weeks within 24 hours of delivery. Parents who consent to participate will receive weekly phone calls to provide lactation support. Data regarding duration of lactation, volume of milk provided, and mom satisfaction will be collected.


Results: The LATCH study is currently in its pilot phase. Data will be available July 2023.


Discussions: Despite discussing benefits of breast milk to moms, our institution has shown a significant decrease in the number of moms who provide breastmilk as infant length of stay increases. The medical school curriculum also leaves new physicians unprepared to support breastfeeding women. The LATCH program addresses both issues by increasing breastfeeding education for medical students, while supporting lactating moms.

Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2023, Student, Faculty, Clerkship Director, Clerkship Coordinator, Osteopathic Faculty, Patient Care, Medical Knowledge, Professionalism, Systems-Based Practice & Improvement, Interpersonal & Communication Skills, Practice-Based Learning & Improvement, UME, Quality & Safety, Public Health, Advocacy,

General Information

Student,Faculty,Clerkship Director,Clerkship Coordinator,Osteopathic Faculty,
Patient Care,Medical Knowledge,Professionalism,Systems-Based Practice & Improvement,Interpersonal & Communication Skills,Practice-Based Learning & Improvement,
Quality & Safety,Public Health,Advocacy,
Clinical Focus

Author Information

Jamie Harkey, MD Candidate, MS; Albany Medical College; Margriet VanDerwerker, n/a; Kate Tauber, MD, MA;

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