Soothers may lead to better breastfeeding
Soothers may lead to more success with breastfeeding, according to new research from the US.
It is widely believed that giving newborn babies soothers (otherwise known as pacifiers) can interfere with breastfeeding.
However, experts now suggest that limiting the use of pacifiers may actually increase the amount of formula that newborns need to drink to supplement their breast milk intake.
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.
New mothers also benefit from breastfeeding, with a more rapid loss of pregnancy weight, reduced risks of certain cancers and improved heart health. Because of this, doctors recommend "exclusive breastfeeding" for the first six months of life. That is, feeding the child with breast milk only.
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 these steps states that soothers should not be provided to breastfeeding babies.
But researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregan are now challenging this guideline.
Doctors at the hospital restricted nurses from routinely giving pacifiers to breastfed newborns.
They then analysed the feeding patterns of nearly 2,250 infants. The results showed that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the maternity unit dropped significantly after pacifiers were restricted - from 79% to 68%.
In addition, the proportion of breastfed infants who needed supplemental formula increased from 18% to 28%.
"Our goal with publicizing this data is to stimulate conversation and scientific inquiry about whether there is sufficient evidence to support the universal recommendation of not offering pacifiers to breastfeeding infants in the first few days to weeks of life," said Dr Laura Kair from OHSU.
According to Dr Kair, the study poses an additional dilemma for parents and pediatric providers because the use of pacifiers is associated with a decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The study was presented this week at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.
[Posted: Mon 30/04/2012]