Study Finds Short Breastfeeds Best for Babies

by VR Sreeraman on  April 21, 2008 at 11:40 AM Child Health News
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Study Finds Short Breastfeeds Best for Babies
A British study has suggested that giving regular, short breastfeeds to infants is more beneficial than the 'baby-led' method.

The traditional recommendations have been largely replaced by 'baby-led' breast-feeding which advises letting infants feed for an unlimited time from the first breast and that both breasts need not be used at each feeding.

In the study, Dr Anne Walshaw, a GP, and her colleagues found that regular feeds of up to 10 minutes on each breast led to increased weight gain and a higher breastfeeding rate.

However, midwives said the method suggested would not apply to everyone.

Researchers had noticed poor weight gain among breastfed babies after baby-led feeding became more common.

They studied 63 mothers in Bradford who exclusively breastfed their babies.

Walshaw and colleagues told half of mothers to feed as and when the baby wanted to, and to offer the second breast only if the baby showed signs of still being hungry.

The rest of the mothers were told to feed their babies for a maximum of 10 minutes on each breast around every three hours during the day and, if necessary, at night.

Mothers in the second group were also advised to leave at least two hours between feeds.

Researchers found that fewer than half of the babies in the baby-led group were still breastfeeding after 12 weeks, as compared with over three-quarters of those whose mothers followed the traditional method.

Besides this, they also found that baby-led feeding and feeding for more than 10 minutes from the first breast, were both linked with poorer weight-gain in the first six to eight weeks of life.

The researchers said that baby-led feeding disrupts the body's system for producing breast-milk.

A dose of a hormone called oxytocin is required to trigger the 'let-down reflex', which leads milk to travel from cells in the breast via ducts to the nipple.

However, if babies stay on the breast for too long, this oxytocin production is disrupted.

The researchers also warned that if babies are not put onto the second breast, which will also be full of milk, at each feed, a protein is produced which stops further milk being made, disrupting the feeding process for hours and perhaps days.

"Babies feeding from both breasts at each feed receive more milk than babies feeding from one breast, and those feeding for shorter average lengths experience increased weight gain and other positive outcomes," BBC quoted Dr Walshaw, as saying.

The study is published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Source: ANI

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