Jun 10, 2013

    Formula helps mums breastfeed longer

    GIVING a small amount of infant formula - about the same as one bottle over the course of several days - to newborns who are losing too much weight can increase the length of time they are breastfed, a new study has found.

    New mothers do not immediately produce high volumes of milk after birth and their newborn can lose weight during this period, said researchers from the University of California.

    "Many mothers develop concerns about their milk supply, which is the most common reason that they stop breastfeeding in the first three months," said Dr Valerie Flaherman, author of the study.

    "But this study suggests that giving those babies a little formula early on may ease those concerns and enable mothers to feel confident about continuing to breastfeed," she added.

    Dr Flaherman and her colleagues examined 40 full-term newborns between 24- and 48-hours-old who had lost more than 5 per cent of their birth weight.

    Some babies received a small amount of formula by syringe after each breastfeeding session, but then stopped receiving formula when their mothers began producing higher volumes of breast milk, about two to five days after birth.

    After three months, 79 per cent of the babies who received formula were still breastfeeding, compared with 42 per cent of those in the control group, who were only breastfed, said the study.

    Additionally, 95 per cent of the babies who received limited formula in the first few days were breastfeeding to some extent at three months, compared with 68 per cent of those who did not receive formula.

    Prior studies have shown that babies who are breastfed have lower risks of developing infections and allergies during infancy, and the longer they are breastfed, the greater the health benefits.

    The study's findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.