HealthDay News — Contrary to popular belief, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding among newborns significantly drops when routine hospital distribution of pacifiers is limited, according to a data presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.

From July to November 2010, before pacifier restrictions were put into place, 79% of infants in the mother-baby unit (MBU) at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland were exclusively breastfed, study researchers Laura Kair, MD, and Carrie Phillipi, MD, PhD, reported at the meeting. After the initiative was adopted, the proportion of exclusively breastfed infants decreased significantly, to 68% from January to August 2011 (P<0.001).

They retrospectively analyzed data from 2,249 infants admitted to the MBU in OHSU’s hospital from June 2010 and August 2011. They compared feeding data from the infants before and after a December 2010 hospital initiative restricted the introduction of pacifiers to breastfed newborns.

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The observed decrease was accompanied by a corresponding increase in the number of breastfed infants receiving supplemental formula, from 18% to 28%. Over the duration of the study, the percentage of exclusively formula-fed infants increased from 1.8% to 3.4% (P=0.03).

“Despite the common belief among medical providers and the general public that pacifier use negatively impacts breastfeeding, we found limiting pacifier availability in the MBU to be associated temporally with decreased exclusive breastfeeding and increased supplemental formula feeds,” the researchers wrote.

Kair L, Phillipi C. “Increase in Supplemental Forumula Feeds Observed Following Removal of Pacifiers from a Mother Baby Unit.” #3310.4. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. April 28-May 1, 2012; Boston.