Formula Can Support Breastfeeding, Study Finds

Although exclusive breastfeeding is recommended when medically possible, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found that supplementing breast milk with formula will not compromise breastfeeding, and that in some cases formula may even help mothers to have successful breastfeeding experiences when their babies are losing weight.  More from The New York Times:

Researchers randomly assigned 38 infants who had lost 5 percent or more of their weight in the days after birth to either breast-feeding alone (the controls), or breast-feeding along with a supplement of formula at the end of each session.

At 1 week of age, all were still breast-feeding, but 9 of 19 infants in the control group were now using formula, compared with only 2 in the group that had used formula at the start. By age 3 months, 79 percent of the early formula users were breastfeeding exclusively, compared with 42 percent of the controls.

The researchers emphasize that they used a careful procedure — small volumes of formula and careful administration with a syringe to prevent confusion between breast and bottle nipple.

“Most babies don’t need formula,” said the lead author, Dr. Valerie J. Flaherman, a pediatrician at the University of California, San
Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital. “But some kids are at risk for weight loss, and this could be an option.”

Image: Baby bottle, via Shutterstock

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