Breastfeeding Patterns in Relation to Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use

Clara Aarts, MSc, Agneta Hörnell, Elisabeth Kylberg, PhD, Yngve Hofvander, MD, PhD, and Mehari Gebre-Medhin, MD, MPH, PhD

PEDIATRICS Vol. 104 No. 4 October 1999, p. e50


Objectives. To analyze the influence of thumb sucking and pacifier use on breastfeeding patterns in exclusively breastfed infants, on the duration of exclusive breastfeeding, and on the total breastfeeding duration.

Study Design. Descriptive, longitudinal, prospective study.

Setting. The subjects were recruited from a population of 15 189 infants born in the maternity ward at the University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden between May 1989 and December 1992.

Study Population. 506 mother-infant pairs.

Methods. Daily recordings by the mothers on infant feeding from the first week after delivery through the duration of the study. Fortnightly home visits with structured interviews by a research assistant.

Results. Pacifier use was associated with fewer feeds and shorter suckling duration per 24 hours, shorter duration of exclusive breastfeeding, and shorter total breastfeeding duration compared with no pacifier use. These associations were not found for thumb sucking. The possible negative effects of pacifiers on breastfeeding seemed to be related to the frequency of their use. Maternal age and education only slightly modified the association between pacifier use and breastfeeding duration.

Conclusions. More frequent use of a pacifier was associated with shorter breastfeeding duration, even among a group of mothers who were highly motivated to breastfeed.

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