To evaluate the effects of pacifier use and the timing of pacifier introduction on breastfeeding duration, problems, and frequency.
A cohort of 265 breastfeeding mother–infant dyads was followed prospectively. Maternal interviews were conducted at delivery, 2, 6, 12, and 24 weeks, and thereafter every 90 days until breastfeeding ended. Information was obtained regarding pacifier use, infant feeding, use of supplemental foods and breastfeeding frequency, duration, and problems. The effect of pacifier introduction by 6 weeks of age on breastfeeding duration was evaluated with Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards models. The effect of the timing of pacifier introduction (≤2 weeks and ≤6 weeks) on breastfeeding duration at 2 and 3 months was evaluated using logistic regression modeling.
A total of 181 mothers (68%) introduced a pacifier before 6 weeks. In adjusted analyses, pacifier introduction by 6 weeks was associated with a significantly increased risk for shortened duration of full (hazard ratio, 1.53; 95% confidence interval: 1.15, 2.05) and overall (hazard ratio, 1.61; 95% confidence interval: 1.19,2.19) breastfeeding. Women who introduced pacifiers tended to breastfeed their infants fewer times per day, with significant differences noted at 2 (8.1 ± 2.6 vs 9.0 ± 2.3) and 12 weeks' (6.3 ± 2.0 vs 7.4 ± 1.6) postpartum. At 12 weeks postpartum, women who introduced pacifiers also were more likely to report that breastfeeding was inconvenient and that they had insufficient milk supplies. Pacifier use begun either before 2 weeks or before 6 weeks' postpartum was not significantly associated with breastfeeding duration at 2 and 3 months.
Pacifier use was independently associated with significant declines in the duration of full and overall breastfeeding. Breastfeeding duration in the first 3 months' postpartum, however, was unaffected by pacifier use. Women who introduced pacifiers tended to breastfeed their infants less frequently and experienced breastfeeding problems consistent with infrequent feeding. Findings from this study suggest that the decreases in breastfeeding duration associated with pacifier use may be a consequence of less frequent breastfeeding among women who introduce pacifiers to their infants.