ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New regulations by the New York Department of Health will prohibit hospitals and affiliated clinics from giving out gift bags that contain formula marketing materials in an effort to boost breastfeeding in the state.

Health officials say newborn infants that are exclusively breastfed in the first few days of life is only 44 percent in New York compared to 70 percent nationally.

The amended regulations will require hospitals to place newborns with their mothers immediately after delivery unless there are medical issues.

“The amended regulations help ensure that we provide the support and encouragement new mothers need to breastfeed their babies and continue to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. “Research shows that breast milk provides unique nutrients and antibodies that help protect babies from diseases such as ear infections, lower respiratory infections, and diarrhea, and decrease the risk of asthma, diabetes, and obesity later in life. For women, breastfeeding lowers their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, as well as diabetes.”

The new regulations do not affect infants whose mothers have chosen formula feeding or for whom breastfeeding can cause medical issues. In these situations, hospitals will still be required to provide formulas and provide instructions on formula preparation and feeding techniques.

Hospitals will also discuss the risk of early pacifier use with patients. Health officials say the use of pacifiers can interfere with a mother’s ability to recognize early feeding cues and make it difficult to establish breastfeeding.

Both the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that pacifier use be delayed until one month of age and that after six months of age, infants should be weaned from using pacifiers because of the increased risk for ear infections.

The Department of Health says hospitals will be required to communicate updated breastfeeding policies and procedures with staff every year.

The updated regulations go into effect in January 2017.