Children's language development may be impaired when they use a pacifier or suck their thumbs for too long. These are the conclusions reached by a team of researchers from the Club of Rehabilitation Club de Leones Cruz del Sur in Chile, led by Clarita Barbosa, who evaluated the relationships between sucking behaviors, leaving aside breastfeeding, and language disorders, in 128 preschool children from La Patagonia (Chile), aged between three and five years.

During the study, published in the journal "Biomed Central Pediatrics," the scientists gathered information from parents about their babies' feeding and sucking behaviors, and evaluated the children's spoken language, discovering that those children who used a pacifier or they sucked their finger for more than three years were three times more likely to present complications in language development. They also observed that delaying the use of a bottle until the child was at least nine months old reduces the risk of developing language disorders later on.

According to these data, Clarita Barbosa affirms that suction, independently of breastfeeding, can be harmful for the correct development of language in young children, and that it is necessary to take into account the results of the study because in recent decades has extended the use of pacifiers and baby bottles.

Thumb sucking, a bad habit (kids’ edition) - Lapointe dental centres (November 2019).