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Soothing News About Pacifiers

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Binky fans, rejoice! Increasing evidence is showing that breastfeeding and paci sucking can co-exist.

The latest proof, just published yesterday in the journal Pediatrics: A study of more than 2,200 newborns out of the Department of Pediatrics at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland found that after a hospital stopped routinely handing out pacifiers, exclusive breastfeeding rates actually decreased. Conversely, exclusive and supplemental formula feeding rates increased.

Prior to the binky ban, during which pacifiers were placed in literal lockdown and nurses had to enter a code to retrieve one, 80 percent of babies born at the hospital were exclusively breastfed. After the ban, that number dropped to 70 percent. The irony here is that the hospital took this step to receive a “Baby-Friendly” designation.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (babyfriendlyusa.org) was created to encourage and recognize hospitals that offer optimal support and care for breastfeeding mothers and their newborns. To receive the designation, hospitals must meet 10 criteria, one of which is “give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.”

It’s long been debated whether pacifier use interferes with the establishment of breastfeeding, particularly in the early weeks. Lactation enthusiasts tend to support this thinking, insisting that pacifier use (along with supplemental baby bottles) can cause “nipple confusion” and interfere with the development of proper latch-on and suckling technique. Not only would plenty of parents and researchers disagree, but pacifier use has also been shown to have some important benefits in recent years. 

Plus: One Mom's Love-Hate Relationship With Pacifiers

“This subject poses an additional dilemma for parents and pediatric providers as pacifier use is associated with a decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a pacifier for sleep after breastfeeding is established,” notes study author Laura Kair, M.D., pediatric resident at OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where the research was conducted.

“Our goal with publicizing 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.”

Did your breastfed baby use a pacifier as well? Let us know.

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