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Pacifiers Have No Detrimental Effect on Breastfeeding

New data shows exclusive breastfeeding higher when pacifiers distributed

MONDAY, April 30 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to popular belief, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding among newborns significantly drops when routine hospital distribution of pacifiers is limited, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 28 to May 1 in Boston.

Laura Kair, M.D., and Carrie Phillipi, M.D., Ph.D., from the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, retrospectively analyzed data on 2,249 infants admitted to the mother-baby unit (MBU) in OHSU's hospital between June 2010 and August 2011. Feeding data before and after a December 2010 hospital initiative restricting introduction of pacifiers to breastfed newborns were compared.

The researchers found that 79 percent of infants in the MBU were exclusively breastfed from July to November 2010, before pacifier restrictions were put in place. The proportion of exclusively breastfed infants decreased significantly, to 68 percent, in January to August 2011 (after the initiative). This decrease was accompanied by a corresponding increase in the number of breastfed infants receiving supplemental formula, from 18 to 28 percent. Over the duration of the study, the percentage of exclusively formula-fed infants increased from 1.8 to 3.4 percent (P = 0.03).

"Despite the common belief among medical providers and the general public that pacifier use negatively impacts breastfeeding, we found limiting pacifier availability in the MBU to be associated temporally with decreased exclusive breastfeeding and increased supplemental formula feeds," the authors write.

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