Good news for tired mums: Dummies DON'T interfere with breastfeeding

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UPDATED:

16:10 GMT, 30 April 2012

Pacified: Dummies

Pacified: Dummies were not found to discourage babies from breast feeding in two randomised controlled trials

Many mothers use dummies to soothe their tired or cranky baby while fearing that the action could put their child off breast feeding.

The World Health Organization recommends
against giving pacifiers to breastfeeding infants in the hospital following birth saying it could discourage nursing.

However, a new review has cast doubt on this assumption.

A team looked at the feeding habits of 2,249 newborns at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital over a 14-month period.

They
reduced the number of dummies available between June 2010 and August
2011 thinking it would improve breast-feeding rates, but in fact they
found the opposite was true.

Breast feeding rates declined from 79 per cent to 68 per cent, while babies receiving formula in
addition to breast milk increased from 18 per cent to 28 per cent.

'Our observations suggest routinely removing pacifiers may negatively
impact exclusive breastfeeding rates during the birth hospitalisation,' said co-author Dr Carrie Phillipi.

It is possible that instead of causing
breastfeeding problems, dummies are more likely to be used by women
already having difficulties breastfeeding.

The authors therefore concluded that if a mother was well-motivated to breastfeed it was up to their own personal preference whether they used a dummy or not.

However, the review published in The Cochrane Library, did not look at whether dummies might promote shallow suckling habits leading to cracked nipples and breastfeeding difficulties. It was also based on research from just one hospital.

The authors admitted they did not yet have enough data on the long-term effects of dummies on babies' health and development.

Therefore co-author Dr Jacqueline Ho said 'mothers should not use pacifiers if they have an alternative way to deal with crying and fussing.'

The World Health Organization and
United Nations Children's Fund recommend that hospitals caring for
newborns follow Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. One of the steps
states that artificial teats or pacifiers should not be provided to
breastfeeding babies.

Co-author Dr Laura Kair said: 'Our goal with publicising this data is to stimulate conversation and
scientific inquiry about whether there is sufficient evidence to support
the universal recommendation of not offering pacifiers to breastfeeding infants in the first few days to weeks of life.'

Using a dummy after six months has been linked with a decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome.