Don’t be a DUMMY
Toddlers who suck thumbs or pacifiers are at greater risk of delayed speech development, writes David Derbyshire
TODDLERS WHO USE dummies are three times more likely to suffer from speech impediments as they grow up, research suggests.
Scientists have found preschool children who have used a dummy for at least three years are more likely to have difficulties talking than children who don’t use them.
Youngsters who suck their thumbs are also at greater risk of delayed speech development, the study found.
Although the findings are preliminary, they add to the growing evidence that parents who give their toddlers dummies could be buying themselves peace and quiet at the expense of their child’s development.
The American and Chilean researchers looked at the history of thumb-and finger-sucking, breast feeding and use of dummies in 128 children aged three to five.
They also used a linguistic test to see whether the children’s speech was normal for their age – or whether they had an unusually low “talking age” when it came to pronouncing sounds and words.
The team, led by Dr Clarita Barbosa of the University of Washington, found children who sucked their fingers or thumbs, or who used a dummy for at least three years, were three times more likely to have a problem with their speech.
But those who were breastfed until they were at least nine months old – and therefore not bottlefed – were less likely to have speech impediments.
“These results suggest extended use of sucking outside of breastfeeding may have detrimental effects on speech development in young children,” said Barbosa.
But she said further study with a larger group was necessary.
“Although results of this study provide further evidence for the benefits of longer duration of breast-feeding of infants, they should be interpreted with caution as these data are observational,” she added.
In the study of Chilean children, 53 had used a dummy for an average of 11 months, while 23 had sucked their fingers.
The debate over dummy use has long troubled parents. Some babies find great comfort in using a dummy, particularly when they are troubled with colic.
Past studies have also shown dummies can halve the risk of cot death in newborn babies.
But dentists say extended use deforms teeth and others have suggested use of a dummy during waking hours stops the child from joining in the chatter of everyday conversation.
The research, by a team from the De Rehabilitacion Club De Leones Cruz del Sur and the University of Washington, was published in BMC Paediatrics. – Daily Mail