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Updated May 1, 2012 - 7:12 am

Study: Babies without pacifiers breastfeed less

PHOENIX -- Hospitals across the country have stopped giving pacifiers to newborns to encourage breastfeeding.

But a recent study by the Oregon Health and Science University showed that when nurses withheld pacifiers from more than 2,200 infants, breastfeeding rates dropped dramatically, while the number of infants going for formula jumped by 10 percent.

Neonatologist Greg Miller of Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale isn't surprised by the study.

"It says 'What happens if you don't let moms use pacifiers in the immediate newborn period?'" he said. "The answer is that because the babies still get upset, and you can't give them a pacifier, they turn to formula."

Miller said breastfeeding is best.

"The benefits to the newborn are absolutely undeniable," he said. "In terms of improved immunological function, decreased allergies, improved IQ, improved growth. It is absolutely without question the best food for newborns."

Miller said doctors should teach moms both the importance of breastfeeding and giving baby a pacifier, including teaching them that pacifiers can also help protect babies from dying in their sleep.

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