Newborn feeding behaviour depressed by intrapartum oxytocin: a pilot study

Acta Paediatr. 2012 Jul;101(7):749-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02668.x. Epub 2012 Apr 4.


Aim: To investigate the effect intrapartum oxytocin administration can have on Primitive Neonatal Reflexes. The secondary objective was to observe the influence of intrapartum oxytocin may have on breastfeeding.

Methods: Twenty healthy primiparae with a single gestation at term were included. To assess Primitive Neonatal Reflexes, video film was taken during an experimental situation designed to elicit Primitive Neonatal Reflexes. Three independent observers blinded to the oxytocin dose that had been administered coded the Primitive Neonatal Reflexes. Data regarding breastfeeding were collected by telephone at 3 months.

Results: Medium oxytocin dose was 1931.9 ± 1754.4 mUI. A Kappa index >0.75 was obtained for four Primitive Neonatal Reflexes: swallow, jaw jerk, suck and gazing. A negative association was found between oxytocin dose and sucking (p = 0.03). At 3 months of life, women exclusively breastfeeding (63.1%) had received a significantly lower average dose of oxytocin than those not exclusively breastfeeding (36.8%) (p = 0.04).

Conclusion: In this pilot study, intrapartum exogenous oxytocin seems to disturb sucking and breastfeeding duration. Further studies are required to confirm these results and to ascertain whether there could be other effects of intrapartum oxytocin on newborn behaviour.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding* / statistics & numerical data
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / drug effects*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Male
  • Oxytocics / administration & dosage
  • Oxytocics / adverse effects*
  • Oxytocin / administration & dosage
  • Oxytocin / adverse effects*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reflex / drug effects*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sucking Behavior / drug effects*
  • Video Recording


  • Oxytocics
  • Oxytocin