Binkies, pacis, soothers… Whatever you call them, many believe giving a pacifier to a breastfeeding newborn can lead to nipple confusion and interfere with nursing. But that might not be true...
Research from Oregon Health and Science University's Doernbaecher Children's Hospital found that when pacifiers are removed from maternity wards in an effort to support nursing, breastfeeding rates—rather than receive a boost—actually plummet, reports ABC News.
In the study, OHSU researchers tracked feeding patterns among babies born at the hospital beginning in June 2010, just as the maternity wing implemented a strict no-pacifier policy. Pacifiers were locked up and nurses were required to enter a code and a patient's name in order to access them, but only in special emergencies, such as for newborns who were undergoing procedures.
To everyone's surprise, breastfeeding rates dropped as soon as pacifiers were no longer readily available. Before the study, 80 percent of babies born in the hospital were exclusively breastfed. After the binky lockdown, however, the rate fell to 70 percent. What's more, the number of breastfed infants who received supplemental formula increased from 18 percent before the policy change to 28 percent afterward. (Binky or no binky, researchers note the percentage of infants fed only formula remained unchanged during the study period.)
What does this means for the longstanding advice to pass on the paci until breastfeeding is established? Researchers say this recommendation might need revising. "Our goal ... is to stimulate conversation 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," says OSHU researcher Dr. Laura Kair.
Another reason to bring on the binky? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pacifier use as a way to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).