Babies Rejoice! Study Suggests Pacifiers Have No Adverse Effects on Breastfeeding


Hailed as a no-no by breastfeeding advocates everywhere, pacifiers have been withheld from the mouths of screaming infants for decades. After all, newborns can’t even support their own heads or control their hands or make me a ham sandwich. Is it any surprise that allowing them to suck on a plastic, faux nipple would instantly undo the one thing that mother nature has hard-wired into mammals since the beginning of time as we know it?

Good news for all those babies out there that aren’t hungry, but would just like something to suck on to pass the time. A new study conducted by pediatricians at the Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital suggests that the age old saying that “practice makes perfect” may be correct.

The hospital stumbled upon their findings during an attempt to follow guidelines by the World Health Organization. In order for a hospital to achieve the WHO’s  Baby-Friendly status, hospitals must agree to follow the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” program that mandates that all pacifiers are locked up. Nurses may only retrieve a pacifier after entering a code and a patient’s name and are otherwise only allowed to give a baby a pacifier to soothe them during an upsetting procedure, like circumcision, or by request.

Pediatricians at the Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital expected to see a rise in breastfeeding after putting this program into place in December in 2010. Instead they saw just the opposite. After studying the feeding behaviors of approximately 2,249 babies from June 2010 to August 2011, they noted a 10% decline which suggests that taking the pacifiers out of routine distribution had an adverse effect on exclusive breastfeeding.

One limitation of the study is that researchers did not track when outside pacifiers not provided by the hospitals were given to babies, but this was also the case before the study was conducted.

While more research needs to be conducted and pediatricians are not urging parents to reconsider their pacifier practices just yet, the study does suggest that perhaps we should have a little more faith in babies to perform one of the only tricks they seem to come out of the womb equipped to do.

Via Today Moms

Photo credit: iStock

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