Pediatric literature catching up to lactation literature?
A study recently published in the journal Pediatrics explored the unfortunately still-common dogma that “breastfeeding takes too much energy” for preterm babies.
The investigators looked at 19 preterm infants born at approximately 32 weeks gestational age — the age at which most babies will be starting to show obvious feeding cues like rooting and sucking. They allowed them to begin oral feeds once they had reached 34 weeks’ gestation, and measured their resting energy expenditure 20 minutes after each type of feeding.
The research team was surprised — the difference in energy expenditure was not statistically significantly different (if anything, a little less.) They noted that it did take longer for the babies to breastfeed, but concluded that “we speculate that it is safe to recommend feeding at the breast for infants born at >32 weeks when they can tolerate oral feeding.”
If my colleagues in neonatology aren’t reading the breastfeeding literature, or even looking at websites summarizing it — like Dr Jack Newman’s — perhaps they will learn from this article.
It gives me some hope… even if Swedish babies are allowed to start breastfeeding as early as 28 weeks (see previous link). We all have to start somewhere.
Kimberly Lee, MD, MS, IBCLC, is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Neonatology) at the Medical University of South Carolina.
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