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Reducing Pacifier Use Has Little Effect on Babies' Behavior

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that reducing pacifier use among infants does not increase crying and fussing and does not affect early weaning from breast-feeding. The Early Show's medical correspondent, Dr. Emily Senay, reports.

The authors of the study found that pacifier use did not cause discontinuation of breast-feeding in the first 3 months. But they did find that it may be a marker of breast-feeding difficulties or reduced motivation to breast-feed.

Parents and health experts have a bit of a love/hate relationship with pacifiers. Traditional hard silicon nipples used to satisfy an infant's need to suck between feedings or to pacify a crying/fussing baby are seen by some as harmful and by some as harmless.

Some experts including the World Health Organization say sucking a pacifier interferes with a baby's ability to nurse at Mom's breast. A newborn should be breast-fed every 90 minutes to 2 hours and using a pacifier can sabotage a mother's breast-feeding efforts.

The experts say the lips' sucking motion used for a hard pacifier is different from the motion used for the breast and may cause "nipple confusion"(an infant is unable or unwilling to latch onto the breast), thereby leading to early weaning.

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends babies breast-feed for at least a year and have stated their official position is that pacifiers don't cause medical or psychological problems as long as they're only used between feedings.

The study results showed women who breast-fed and used pacifiers with their infants were less likely to breast-feed their infants and had more problems with breast-feeding. Yet there was no common denominator between the women in the study other than a possible psychological one when it came to using pacifiers.

The study also reported that alternate methods of soothing an infant such as breast-feeding, carrying, and rocking appeared to work as well as pacifiers.

Dr. Senay recommends following these safety tips when using pacifiers:

  • Use one-piece model with a soft nipple and shield
  • Use dishwasher safe pacifiers and wash often
  • Keep extra pacifiers handy
  • Throw out old pacifiers
  • Use the appropriate size
  • Don't use as a meal
  • Don't use during sleep
  • Never tie a pacifier to your child's neck, hand or crib

For more information visit The American Academy Of Pediatrics.
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