Formula aids in breastfeeding

A new study showed that using formula and breastfeeding may extend the time a child will nurse.


The last thing that many new mothers want to hear when they intend to breastfeed is the word “formula.”

However, according to a new study, formula may help mothers with low milk supply keep their child breastfeeding for a longer duration.

Dr. Valerie Flaherman, a pediatrician at UC San Francisco, teamed up with colleagues to evaluate 38 infants that had lost 5 percent of their birth weight within their first 36 hours. One group was given 10 milliliters of formula through a syringe after each breastfeeding session with their mothers. They stopped giving the formula once the mothers’ milk supply came in. The other group—the control group—included infants only breastfed.

After a week, only two of the 20 babies who had received the syringe feedings had received formula in the previous 24 hours. In the control group, nine of 19 babies had wound up going on formula.

Three months after the children were born, 79 percent of the babies who had the early formula feedings were breastfeeding exclusively, while just 42 percent of the control group babies were solely breastfed.

“By partially ameliorating weight loss and signs of fussiness and hunger, early limited feeding may provide mothers with a strategy to allay their milk supply concern and continue with their desire to breast-feed for a longer duration,” the team wrote.

The researchers say that the use of the syringe made sure the infants did not learn to prefer bottles to the breast.

In other news, more women in the U.S. are breastfeeding in general.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed that the percentage of women who breastfed babies from birth went from 70.3 percent to 74.6 percent in recent years. The number of women still breastfeeding when children were six months old increased from 34.5 percent to 44.4 percent and children who were breastfed for a year rose from 16 percent to 23.4 percent.

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