OHSU researchers: Do pacifiers really decrease breastfeeding rates?

In 2011, OHSU’s Mother-Baby Unit stopped routine distribution of pacifiers to breastfeeding newborns in accordance with recommendations by the Joint Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their goal was to increase the number of infants in the unit who were breastfed only and received no supplemental formula.

What happened, though, was quite the opposite. When the no-pacifier policy was implemented, the percent of exclusively breastfed infants dropped from 79 to 68 percent. During the same period, there was a 10 percent increase in breastfed infants receiving formula.

Laura Kair, M.D., a resident in pediatrics at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, said: “We view this as an interesting observation, but we do not claim a cause and effect relationship. Our goal in publicizing this data is to stimulate dialogue and scientific inquiry into the relationship between pacifiers and breastfeeding.”

And stimulate dialogue it has. Since these findings were presented earlier today at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, several national news outlets have picked up the story, including Time and CBS News. To learn more, check out the OHSU News release.

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