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BMJ. 2004 Jul 24;329(7459):193-8. Epub 2004 Jun 18.

Effect of bottles, cups, and dummies on breast feeding in preterm infants: a randomised controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Nursing and Midwifery Research and Practice Development, Women's and Children's Hospital, 72 King William Road, North Adelaide, South Australia, 5006, Australia.



To determine the effect of artificial teats (bottle and dummy) and cups on breast feeding in preterm infants.


Randomised controlled trial.


Two large tertiary hospitals, 54 peripheral hospitals.


319 preterm infants (born at 23-33 weeks' gestation) randomly assigned to one of four groups: cup/no dummy (n = 89), cup/dummy (n = 72), bottle/no dummy (n = 73), bottle/dummy (n = 85). Women with singleton or twin infants < 34 weeks' gestation who wanted to breastfeed were eligible to participate.


Cup or bottle feeding occurred when the mother was unable to be present to breast feed. Infants randomised to the dummy groups received a dummy on entry into the trial.


Full breast feeding (compared with partial and none) and any breast feeding (compared with none) on discharge home.


prevalence of breast feeding at three and six months after discharge and length of hospital stay.


303 infants (and 278 mothers) were included in the intention to treat analysis. There were no significant differences for any of the study outcomes according to use of a dummy. Infants randomised to cup feeds were more likely to be fully breast fed on discharge home (odds ratio 1.73, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 2.88, P = 0.03), but had a longer length of stay (hazard ratio 0.71, 0.55 to 0.92, P = 0.01).


Dummies do not affect breast feeding in preterm infants. Cup feeding significantly increases the likelihood that the baby will be fully breast fed at discharge home, but has no effect on any breast feeding and increases the length of hospital stay.

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