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The trouble with the thumb

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My oldest daughter is a thumb-sucker. It never really bothered me or my husband, and neither her physician or dentist (surprisingly) have expressed great concern about it. The issue flared up recently, though, when my daughter's preschool teachers started issuing "gentle reminders" about keeping her thumb from her mouth. Maybe, my husband and I thought, it was a good time to start the weaning process.

A study published today might have given me the extra push I need to help rid my daughter of her habit. The research, published in BMC Pediatrics, shows that long-term pacifier use and thumb-sucking may impact speech development.

From Booster Shots:

The study looked at the association between sucking behaviors and speech disorders in 128 children, ages three to five, in Chile. Delaying bottle use until at least 9 months old reduced the risk of developing a speech disorder, researchers found. But children who sucked their thumb, fingers or used a pacifier for more than three years were three times as likely to develop speech impediments.

The authors of the study noted that other research suggests that use of a pacifier or thumb-sucking for less than three years also increases the risk of a speech problem. The sucking motion may change the normal shape of the dental arch and bite.

Photo by treehouse1977

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