Research questions impact of pacifiers on disrupting breast-feeding
April 30th, 2012
12:05 PM ET

Research questions impact of pacifiers on disrupting breast-feeding

Pacifiers can soothe agitated infants, but some experts - including those at the World Health Organization (WHO) - discourage pacifier use in the first six months of life because of concerns that it may interfere with breast-feeding, widely seen as the best way to feed a newborn.

New research, however, casts doubt on the notion that pacifier use disrupts breast-feeding. In an analysis of feeding patterns among 2,249 infants in a single maternity ward over a 15-month period, researchers found the proportion of infants who were exclusively breast-fed dropped from 79% to 68% after pacifier use was restricted in the ward.

Meanwhile, the proportion of infants who needed formula in addition to breast-feeding jumped from 18% to 28% after the change in policy, according to the preliminary results of the study, which were presented today at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, in Boston.

"We were surprised - even disappointed - to find that our exclusive breast-feeding rates went down and supplemental formula feedings went up," says Carrie Phillipi, M.D., senior author of the study and an associate professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, in Portland.

Health.com: Painless breast-feeding, a motherhood myth

The conventional wisdom is that pacifier use creates "nipple confusion" in newborns, says Pete Richel, M.D., chief of pediatrics at Northern Westchester Hospital, in Mt. Kisco, New York, who was not involved with the study.

The theory is that infants suckle their mother's nipple differently than they do a bottle or pacifier, and may have difficulty latching on to the mother if they're given too much exposure to artificial nipples.

In addition, the body produces breast milk according to demand, so frequently giving infants a pacifier may in some cases compromise the mother's milk supply, Phillipi says.

Health.com: Women who delay returning to work breast-feed longer

Prohibiting the use of pacifiers and artificial nipples is one of the 10 steps for encouraging breast-feeding that hospitals in the United States must take to earn a "baby-friendly" designation from the WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

As part of its efforts to qualify for this baby-friendly status, the Doernbecher Children's Hospital at OHSU curtailed the use of pacifiers in its mother-baby unit in December 2010. After that date, the hospital required nurses and doctors to sign pacifiers out and use them only for "medically appropriate reasons," such as when a baby undergoes a painful surgical procedure or is withdrawing from drugs the mother took while pregnant.

The policy change provided Phillipi and her colleagues with a handy way of assessing before-and-after changes in pacifier use and breast-feeding, but their analysis lacks the rigor of a carefully designed and controlled study.

For instance, the hospital allowed visitors to bring their own pacifiers into the mother-baby unit, which is specially designed to accommodate mothers, infants, and family members. The researchers have no way of knowing how many outside pacifiers were brought it, or how often the infants used them.

Health.com: Pregnancy advice examined

Moreover, the analysis didn't take into account the mothers' demographic profiles and the hospital's staffing levels, in particular the availability of doctors and nurses to give breast-feeding advice, Phillipi says.

Despite these weaknesses, the findings add another wrinkle to the already confusing recommendations for pacifier use in newborns. In contrast to the WHO, which discourages all pacifier use in the first six months of life, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving babies pacifiers as they fall asleep beginning at the one-month mark, because this practice has been linked with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

"It's very logical to think that pacifiers might interfere with breastfeeding, but there isn't really strong evidence that pacifiers are the problem, and they do turn out to be beneficial for reducing the risk of SIDS," Phillipi says. "Maybe we could approach mothers and their infants on a more individual basis… We can't make blanket recommendations about complex things."

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. healing System

    With havin so much written content do you ever run into any
    problms of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My site hass a lot of completely unkque content I've either creted myself or outsourced bbut it appears a
    loot of it is popping it up all over the internet
    without my authorization. Do you know any methods to help rotect against
    content from being stolen? I'd really appreciate it.

    Here iss my webpage; healing System

    February 25, 2021 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Togel Online Terpercaya

    hey there and thank you for your info – I've definitely picked up
    anything new from right here. I did however expertise some
    technical points using this site, since I experienced to reload the site a lot of times previous to I
    could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web
    host is OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will very
    frequently affect your placement in google and could damage your quality
    score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Well I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look
    out for much more of your respective intriguing content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

    February 25, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Click Site

    You completed some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found the majority of persons will go along with with your blog.


    February 26, 2021 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 007카지노

    This is the perfect blog for anybody who wishes to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject which has been written about for decades. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!


    February 27, 2021 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 007카지노


    February 27, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 더킹카지노


    February 27, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. CBD for Pets

    What an amazing way of checking out points.


    February 27, 2021 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Gaychateu

    I just like the helpful information you supply to your articles. I?ll bookmark your weblog and test again right here regularly. I'm moderately certain I?ll be informed many new stuff proper right here! Good luck for the next!


    February 28, 2021 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Vodafone Base Chat Kostenlos

    Hi there, just changed into aware of your weblog through Google, and found that it's really informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I?ll appreciate should you continue this in future. Many other people will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers!


    February 28, 2021 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ClarkTauts

    a11mk 0m1xu bi9b

    March 1, 2021 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Insurance Lead

    I’ve recently started a blog, the info you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.


    March 2, 2021 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Картины Бориса Суздаля

    It's perfect time tto ake a few plans for the future
    and it is tume to be happy. I've read this submit and if I could
    I wih to counsel you some fascinating issues or suggestions.

    Perhaps you can write subsequent articles referring too this article.
    I desire tto learn more issues ablut it!

    Alsoo visit my website :: Картины Бориса Суздаля

    March 2, 2021 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. sbobet.com

    Excellent weblog right here! Also your site rather
    a lot up very fast! What web host are you the use of? Can I am getting
    your affiliate link to your host? I wish my site loaded up as fast as yours lol

    March 2, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Foam insulation pipe supplier

    Appreciate it! It is definitely an astonishing online site!


    March 2, 2021 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.