Study Reveals They May Not Interfere After All

If your hospital is "Baby Friendly," your newborn may not have had a pacifier after her birth. Read on to discover why this may not be such a hot idea!

Pacifier in baby's mouth

A new study has revealed that removing binkies from the mouths of newborns may actually have a detrimental effect on their mother's breastfeeding efforts. The research, undertaken by doctors at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), found that breastfeeding rates actually dropped, and formula and bottle use increased when pacifiers were not around for the babies to use.

Conventional wisdom

For decades, professionals and mothers alike have known that introducing an artificial nipple in the first month of life can cause nipple confusion in a breastfed infant, so it's been recommended that moms avoid using pacifiers and bottles during the first few weeks of a baby's life.

This led the World Health Organization to mandate that a lack of pacifiers be included on a list that hospitals must follow in order to be deemed "Baby Friendly." Another example of a WHO mandate is not giving a newborn outside food or drink unless medically indicated.

The findings

The group studied infants who had been born at OHSU in 2010 and 2011. Midway in that timeframe, the staff stopped routinely handing out pacifiers to newborns whose mothers wanted to breastfeed. Amazingly, after that point, breastfeeding rates dropped dramatically -- before the policy went in use, 80 percent of babies exlusively breastfed, but after, it went to 68 percent.

The findings were surprising, even for the authors of the study. They said that there are a variety of opinions on pacifier use in the first part of an infant's life and overall, the 10 steps required by the WHO to be certified "Baby Friendly" have indeed increased breastfeeding success rates. However, it seems, at least partially, that pacifier use may not be the demon once imagined when it comes to breastfeeding.

More on pacifiers

Pacifier do's and don'ts
Are you a human pacifier?
How to get rid of the old pacifier


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