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These 2 pieces of breastfeeding advice might be outdated

According to a new report, these pieces of breastfeeding advice could be doing more harm than good

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that enumerates two pieces of breastfeeding advice that we should probably stop adhering to, reports Medical Xpress.

When it comes to your infant’s nutrition, nothing can come close to breastfeeding, which provides substantial health benefits for children. This is why several health and medical organizations have come forward with interventions and recommendations to help breastfeeding mothers.

However, some of these interventions could harm more than help, as the report’s authors Dr. Valerie Flaherman and Dr. Isabelle Von Kohorn say, namely: telling mothers to avoid pacifiers, and advocating exclusive breastfeeding. Here’s why.

Pacifiers: are they really all that bad?

breastfeeding advice

Many breastfeeding advocates counsel mothers to avoid pacifiers because it could deter breastfeeding. But Flaherman and Von Kohonr point out that “avoiding pacifiers was not associated with any breastfeeding outcomes assessed in the evidence review.”

Furthermore, pacifiers also help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is the most common cause of post-neonatal death in the US. According to a 2005 study published in the journal Pediatrics, 1 SIDS death could be prevented for every 2733 infants who use a pacifier while sleeping.

How exactly pacifiers prevent SIDS is still unclear, but there are some theories. First Candle enumerates the most prominent ones:

  1. Pacifiers could discourage infants from rolling onto their stomachs while sleeping.
  2. Infants who use pacifiers are lighter sleepers. They're also more likely to wake up when their pacifiers fall out while sleeping.
  3. Pacifiers could make it easier to keep babies' airways free, as it changes the infant's tongue position.

On the next page: what about exclusive breastfeeding?

What about exclusive breastfeeding?

It’s understandable why many organizations vouch for exclusive breastfeeding. Breastfeeding helps reduce illnesses like asthma, atopic dermatitis, and gastrointestinal tract infection, as well as chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Evidence has shown that any breastfeeding is better than no breastfeeding, and the longer one breastfeeds, the greater the benefits are.

However, it's important to note that not all mothers are able to produce enough milk to feed their child. For these women, trying to breastfeed exclusively could lead to "hyperbilirubinemia, dehydration, and readmission".

"Although these conditions are generally mild and often resolve rapidly, their frequency is high," the report reads. "One to two percent of all US newborns require readmission in the first week after birth, and the risk is approximately doubled for those exclusively breastfed."

breastfeeding advice

The bottom line

At the heart of and Flaherman and Von Kohorn’s report is this: we should all try to breastfeed our babies, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach to breastfeeding. Instead of a “single, uniform approach”, mothers should be given breastfeeding support that is tailored to their needs, so that they can breastfeed their babies for longer.

Read the full report here.

READ: Pressuring mothers to exclusively breastfeed can put newborns at risk of starvation

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