60-Second Health

Pacifiers Won't Make Newborns Shun Breast

The conventional wisdom that pacifiers can interfere with early breast-feeding efforts might not hold milk. Katherine Harmon reports

The first hours of life can be rough. So for years newborns in the hospital were given pacifiers to calm and quiet them—with many breast-feeding advocates worrying the newborns would get used to the artificial nipple and be less inclined to take to the breast.

But never fear. A study finds that keeping kids from getting pacifiers did not help later breast-feeding. In fact, it looks like this hindered the kids eventually becoming exclusively breast-fed.

The study followed more than 2,000 infants born over the course of about a year. When pacifiers were prohibited, surprisingly, fewer babies were breast-fed exclusively while in the hospital and more received supplemental formula. The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. [Laura Kair and Carrie Phillipi, "Increase in Supplemental Formula Feeds Observed Following Removal of Pacifiers from a Mother Baby Unit"]

The World Health Organization recommends breast-feeding babies exclusively for six months and then partially until age two. So for those early hours, a pacifier might be just what the doctor—or maternity ward nurse—ordered.

—Katherine Harmon

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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