The relation between the frequency of breast-feeding and intake, weight loss, meconium passage, and bilirubin levels was studied in 140 healthy, full-term, breast-fed, Japanese neonates born vaginally without complications. Factors affecting the frequency of breast-feeding were also evaluated. Mothers nursed their neonates, on average, 4.3 ± 2.5 (SD) times (range 0 to 11) during the first 24 hours after birth, and this frequency increased significantly to 7.4 ± 3.9 times during the next 24 hours (P < .001). There was a significant correlation between the frequency of breast-feeding during the first and second 24 hours after birth (r = .69, P < .001). The frequency of breast-feeding during the first 24 hours correlated significantly with frequency of meconium passage (r = .37, P < .01), maximum weight loss (r = -.22, P < .05), breast milk intake on day 3 (r = .50, P < .01) and day 5 (r = .34, P < .05), transcutaneous bilirubin readings on day 6 (r = -.18, P < .05), and weight loss from birth to time of discharge (day 7) (r = -.32, P < .01). There was a strong dose-response relationship between feeding frequency and a decreased incidence of significant hyperbilirubinemia (transcutaneous bilirubin readings ≥23.5) on day 6. The time of birth also affected the frequency of breast-feeding during the first 24 hours. Neonates born between midnight and 6:00 AM were nursed more frequently than those born between 1:00 PM and midnight (5.1 ± 2.4 vs 3.9 ± 2.3 times, P < .05). The results demonstrate that frequent suckling in the first days of life has numerous beneficial effects on the breast-fed, full-term newborn.
- Received March 3, 1989.
- Accepted August 10, 1989.
- Copyright © 1990 by the American Academy of Pediatrics