Association Between In-Hospital Pacifier Use and Breastfeeding Continuation and Exclusivity: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Admission as a Possible Effect Modifier

Laura R Kair, Tarah T Colaizy
Breastfeeding Medicine 2017, 12: 12-19

BACKGROUND: Breastfeeding dyads frequently use pacifiers during the birth hospitalization, but the relationships between this exposure and breastfeeding continuation and exclusivity remain unclear.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this secondary analysis of cross-sectional survey data from the CDC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) from 10 U.S. states (AK, AR, CO, ME, MN, NJ, NY, OR, TX, and VT) from 2009 to 2011, we assessed to what extent pacifier use during the birth hospitalization is independently associated with any and exclusive breastfeeding ≥10 weeks.

RESULTS: A total of 37,628 mothers who were chosen by random birth certificate sampling completed surveys at ∼4 months postpartum. Adjusting for multiple pro-breastfeeding hospital practices and maternal and infant demographic characteristics, pacifier exposure during the birth hospitalization was independently associated with decreased odds of breastfeeding ≥10 weeks (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]) 0.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.63-0.80, p < 0.0001) and exclusive breastfeeding ≥10 weeks (aOR 0.70, 95% CI 0.63-0.79, p < 0.0001) among infants admitted to the well-baby nursery, but not among those admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

CONCLUSIONS: In this population study of mothers from 10 U.S. states, pacifier use during the birth hospitalization was associated with decreased odds of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding ≥10 weeks among well-newborn, but not NICU-admitted infants. Pacifier use may be a marker rather than a cause of breastfeeding difficulties, but prospective, randomized studies are needed to help clarify this. Future studies exploring pacifier exposure and breastfeeding outcomes should account for NICU admission as an effect modifier.

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