CLINICAL RESEARCH: A Bradford doctor has led on a groundbreaking study into babies who fail to take enough breast milk.

Dr Sam Oddie, a consultant neonatologist at Bradford Royal Infirmary, developed an interest in the subject after coming across a baby with a severe case early in his career.

Babies who fail to feed can become dehydrated, suffer from increased salt levels in their blood and in very rare cases could die. Dr Oddie’s study established that the rate of hypernatraemia was 7 in every 100,000 live births in the UK and that in the majority of the cases the babies were first borns. No babies surveyed died but the condition was characterised by weight loss and also failing to produce stools.

He said the solution was to ensure mothers had access to support for breast feeding, rather than turning to formula milk.

“Measures such as early initiation of breastfeeding, skilled helpers observing and supporting women breastfeeding, and targeting help in cases where feeding is difficult – such as where there is excess weight loss, decreased stool output or both – will both support the initiation of breastfeeding in general and find cases where a more serious problem may be developing,” he added.