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Prolonged sucking in infants may lead to speech impediments.

Sucking habits such as pacifier use, finger sucking and bottle feeding are associated with speech disorders in pre-school children, a study has found. Previous studies have found that children's non-nutritive sucking habits may lead to delayed development of oral anatomy and functioning, but findings have been inconsistent. To investigate this further, researchers in Patagonia, Chile, evaluated information on infant feeding and sucking behaviours, age starting and stopping breast- and bottle-feeding, pacifier use and other sucking behaviours, from questionnaires completed by parents of 128 three- to five-year old pre-schoolers. The parents' reports were combined with evaluations of their child's speech. Children were breastfed for an average of 25.2 months and used a bottle 24.4 months, 53 had or did use a pacifier for an average of 11.4 months, and 23 were reported to have sucked their fingers. A three-fold increase in relative odds of speech disorder was found for finger-sucking behaviour and use of a pacifier for three or more years. Delayed use of a bottle until after nine months appeared to be protective for subsequent speech disorders. There was less than a one-third lower relative odds of subsequent speech disorders for children with delayed bottle use compared to those without. These results do suggest an association between sucking habits and speech disorders in preschool children, conclude the authors.

Barbosa C, Vasquez S, Parada MA, Gonzalez JC, Jackson C, Yanez ND, Gelaye B, Fitzpatrick AL. The relationship of bottle feeding and other sucking behaviors with speech disorder in Patagonian preschoolers. BMC Pediatrics, 2009; 9: 66.
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Title Annotation:CLINICAL PAPERS
Publication:Community Practitioner
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2010
Words:257
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