•Sucking on a pacifier makes the baby to swallow a lot of saliva and saliva has digestive enzymes and acids alike hydrochloric acid.
•The saliva then goes into an empty stomach causing a lot of gas in the baby stomach which over time creates problems.
Health experts have warned against the use of pacifiers to soothe infants due to the adverse effects they have on the baby when used over time.
Pacifiers are rubber, plastic or silicone nipple substitutes given to an infant to suckle to self-soothe at naptime and bedtime.
Even though studies have shown that pacifiers may reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, experts have warned that sucking one makes the baby swallow a lot of saliva and saliva has digestive enzymes and acids like hydrochloric acid.
The saliva then goes into an empty stomach causing a lot of gas in the baby's stomach which over time can cause problems with the lining of the baby's stomach.
Beatrice Marube on Tuesday said the baby will not be able to feed well due to a stomach already filled with saliva and gas, thus delaying their development milestones and leading to malnutrition.
Marube is a nutritionist at Pumwani in charge of the nutrition department.
“This baby will be malnourished because they are full of gas and saliva and this is not food so they will not be able to add weight, their development milestones will be delayed due to poor nutrition,” Marube said.
“The same pacifier when removed from the baby is placed somewhere, not very clean and when taken by the baby again it can cause infections because of the surfaces where it has been placed."
Marube spoke during the World Breastfeeding Week celebrations at Mbagathi Hospital.
This is after it emerged that 39 in every 100 children in Kenya are not exclusively breastfed for the first six months after birth.
This is despite Kenya making progress in increasing the proportion of infants who are exclusively breastfed with data from the Ministry of Health showing an increase from 32 per cent in 2008 to 61 per cent in 2014.
The WBW is an annual event celebrated annually since 1992 to raise awareness and galvanise action on breastfeeding.
This year’s theme is ‘Step up for Breastfeeding; Educate and Support.’
It focuses on strengthening the capacity of actors who have the responsibility to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of society.
“We know the benefits and we want to ensure that that is made possible through collaborative works,” Unicef Kenya nutrition manager Abiud Ochieng said.
“One of the areas where we can contribute to making breastfeeding more useful is promoting workplace support for breastfeeding through the implementation of workplace support for breastfeeding,” Ochieng said.
According to Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi, breastfeeding is a cornerstone to child survival, nutrition and early childhood development.
Mwangangi noted that breastfeeding is also an important intervention in the Covid-19 pandemic period due to its significant contribution toward improved nutrition and food security and reduction in inequalities.
“The theme this year highlights the links between breastfeeding and good nutrition, food security and reduction of inequalities,” Mwangangi said.
(Edited by Tabnacha O)