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They Say: Pacifiers (and Bottles!) Lead to Speech Delays

pacifier-use-linked-to-speech-delaysThere’s something I’d like to get out of the way: I don’t care if my son’s frequent pacifier use results in the biggest, nastiest, crooked-tooth overbite — or renders him dead last among his contemporaries in complete sentence formation. That little plastic plug of love has been an integral part of our multi-pronged approach to the whole family getting really good sleep. Every dime I pay for orthodonic (and, apparently, language development) correction will have been worth it. Charge me double. I’ll pay that too.

With that in mind, I bring you this news. There’s a new study that suggests a link between speech disorders and sucking on any nipple other than the real-live flesh kind. Yes, this includes giving newborns bottles.

The study, published in the journal BMC Pediatrics, looked at 128 kids between 3 and 5 years old. The ones who had been given a bottle AFTER they turned 9 months old were less likely to develop speech disorders. The ones who sucked on their thumbs, fingers or a pacifier for more than 3 years were three times as likely to develop speech impediments.

Breastfeeding had no apparent detrimental effects and promotes “positive oral development.” Finger-, thumb- and pacifier-sucking appeared to change the dental arch and bite, according to other research, if done for even fewer than three years.

From the LA Times Booster Shots blog:

“The development of coordinated breathing, chewing, swallowing and speech articulation has been shown to be associated with breastfeeding. It is believed that breastfeeding promotes mobility, strength and posture of the speech organs,” the authors wrote.

I wish this alarmed me. But my son is my only pacifier user and my best sleeper. Connection? Definitely. Our collection of pacifiers is going nowhere.

Got a thumbsucker? Worried about pacifier use? Am I too blase about future mouth-shape and language development?

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Photo: LA Times

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