Breastfeeding Medicine

Physicians blogging about breastfeeding

Pediatric literature catching up to lactation literature?

with 2 comments

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.

Posts on this blog reflect the opinions of individual ABM members, not the organization as a whole.

Written by neobfmd

May 8, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Posted in research

2 Responses

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  1. My son was born at 33 weeks, we started oral (breast) feedings at 34, it took lots of work on both of our parts, but now 15 months later, we’re still going strong. By the time he was about 3 months old he had totally forgotton what a bottle was, and would refuse it completely. I think too many people weather with a pre term or full term baby, are just scared of the extra work involed in getting started.


    May 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

  2. Sadly, for some, no matter how hard they work it doesn’t work. I also think a lot depends upon the quality and even the existence of support. It also depends upon a mother’s confidence level that she will not be starving her child in the process.

    Please don’t be hard on those who have not been as fortunate as you have. You were very fortunate. Yes, you worked hard, but so have many who failed. There are many factors at play over which mothers have no control.

    Congratulations on your success and the beautiful nursing relationship you are able to share with your son.


    May 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

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