Researchers have found that giving an infant a pacifier does not interfere with breastfeeding success.
The team led by Dr Fern Hauck, researcher and associate professor of family medicine and public health sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine has found no adverse relationship between the two.
"Physicians, nurses and others who advise parents on infant care issues do need to be educated about the potential benefit of using a pacifier for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) prevention, and further, now need to be reassured that using the pacifier should not interfere with breastfeeding," said Hauck.
The researchers reviewed 29 studies, of which four were randomized control studies (RCT), 20 were cohort studies and five were cross sectional studies.
The results from the four RCTs showed no difference in breastfeeding outcomes with different pacifier interventions, such as use with tube feedings, use after delivery or educational programs promoting non-use of pacifiers.
Most of the observational studies- cross-sectional and cohort - reported an association between pacifier use and shortened duration of breastfeeding.
According to Hauck, this association was likely due to other factors such as breastfeeding difficulties or desire to wean.
"Mothers who breastfeed are often advised not to use a pacifier. This recommendation needs to be corrected. However, if a baby refuses a pacifier, it should not be forced upon him or her," she said.
Hauck added that the best time to introduce a pacifier is usually when the baby is three to four weeks old, after breastfeeding is well established. Most of all, mothers who choose to breast-feed need lots of support.
The results appear in Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine.