The effect of the odour of mother's milk on breastfeeding behaviour of premature neonates

Acta Paediatr. 2007 Mar;96(3):368-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00114.x.


Aim: To assess the effects of exposure to the odour of mother's milk on breastfeeding behaviour of premature neonates.

Methods: Thirteen preterm infants born at 30-33 weeks gestational age were tested. Seven infants were randomly assigned to the milk-odour condition, 6 to the water-control condition. During week 35 post-conceptual age, each baby was exposed to the appropriate odour stimulus for 120 sec. on 5 consecutive days immediately prior to a breastfeeding attempt. The breastfeeding bout following the final odour exposure session, and a second breastfeeding session shortly before the baby left the hospital, were analysed. Babies were weighed before and after each feeding session.

Results: During each breastfeeding session, babies in the milk-odour condition displayed longer sucking bouts and more bursts composed of >7 sucking movements, and also consumed more milk than the Control infants. The time spent in the hospital was significantly less for the milk-odour condition (median = 43 days vs. 55.5 days for Controls).

Conclusion: Brief exposure to the odour of mother's milk prior to early breastfeeding trials had a positive effect on sucking behaviour and milk ingestion of preterm babies, which in turn resulted in a shortened stay in the hospital.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Milk, Human*
  • Odorants*
  • Sucking Behavior*