BOSTON Binkies, corks, soothers. Whatever you call pacifiers, conventional wisdom holds that giving them to newborns can interfere with breastfeeding.
New research, however, challenges that assertion. In fact, limiting the use of pacifiers in newborn nurseries may actually increase infants' consumption of formula during the birth hospitalization, according to a study to be presented Monday, April 30, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston.
Studies have shown that breastfed infants have fewer illnesses such as ear infections and diarrhea as well as a reduced risk of certain cancers, obesity and asthma. Moms benefit, too, from more rapid loss of pregnancy-associated weight gain, reduced risks of certain cancers and improved cardiovascular health. Based on that evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
To encourage exclusive breastfeeding, the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund recommend that hospitals caring for newborns follow Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. One of the steps states that artificial teats or pacifiers should not be provided to breastfeeding babies. Medical centers that follow the 10 steps can be recognized as Baby-Friendly Hospitals.
In their study, Laura Kair, MD, and Carrie Phillipi, MD, PhD, from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), sought to determine if eliminating routine pacifier distribution on the hospital's mother-baby unit increased the rate of exclusive breastfeeding.
OHSU, which has been working to become a Baby-Friendly Hospital, implemented a policy in December 2010 restricting nurses from routinely giving pacifiers to breastfed newborns. The pacifiers were locked up and nurses had to enter a code and a patient's name in order to access them for special circumstances (e.g., to help soothe infants undergoing painful procedures).
|Contact: Susan Stevens Martin|
American Academy of Pediatrics