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Antrim Hospital Neonatal Unit gains UNICEF Baby Friendly Award

The Neonatal Unit in Antrim Hospital has been awarded the prestigious Baby Friendly Award and is the latest UK health care facility to gain recognition from the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Baby Friendly Initiative.

It is the first Neonatal Unit in Northern Ireland to achieve this award which is an acknowledgement of the high standard of care delivered to not only sick and vulnerable babies but their families.

This award is in recognition of the team’s commitment in supporting parents to have close and loving relationships with their preterm or sick baby, enabling babies to receive breast milk where possible and to value parents as partners in their baby’s care.

This award from the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative is a reflection of the team’s ongoing commitment to increase breastfeeding rates and improve care for all mothers in Antrim Neonatal Unit.

Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses, including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy, as well as cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes and obesity later in life. It is also known that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers, and that it supports the mental health of both mother and baby.

Within the Neonatal Unit the team set out to ensure that all mothers and babies are supported to form a close and loving relationship – whatever their choice of feeding method – as this is the best start for every baby.

The Baby Friendly Initiative is a global programme which aims to transform healthcare for babies, their mothers and families as part of a wider global partnership between UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the UK, the Baby Friendly Initiative works with public services to better support families with feeding and developing close, loving relationships in order to ensure that all babies get the best possible start in life. The award is given to health facilities / hospitals / universities after an assessment by a UNICEF UK team has shown that recognised best practice standards are in place.

“We are delighted that Antrim Hospital Neonatal Unit has achieved full Baby Friendly status,” said UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director, Sue Ashmore.

“Our work to support breastfeeding is based on extensive and resounding evidence that breastfeeding saves lives, improves health and cuts costs in every country worldwide, rich and poor alike. Mothers at Antrim Neonatal Unit can be confident that the team will provide high standards of care.”


The United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) is a registered charity that raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work around the world and advocates for lasting change for children worldwide.

This includes, for example, working to change UK Government policies and practices that are harmful to child rights in the UK and internationally. UNICEF UK is one of 33 UNICEF national charitable organisations based in industrialised countries.


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