On the advice of the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, hospitals across the U.S. have been discouraging pacifier use in their newborn units because of concern that it might hinder breastfeeding. But a new study from Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital found that when pacifiers were removed, exclusive breastfeeding at the hospital actually declined.
Researchers looked at feeding data on 2,249 infants in the hospital’s Mother-Baby Unit between June 2010 and August 2011. They found that 68 percent of those born after the hospital implemented a no-pacifier policy in December 2010 were breastfed exclusively, compared with 79 percent of those born before pacifiers were removed. And the number of breastfed infants being fed supplemental formula jumped 10 percent after pacifiers were eliminated.
Authors of the study, presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting April 30 in Boston, are not claiming that removing pacifiers caused the decline in breastfeeding, but are hoping their findings will spark dialog and further research into the relationship between breastfeeding and pacifiers.