Many new parents debate the use of a pacifier in infants and young children. Health care providers often provide little assistance; as many nurses, midwives, and doctors recommend the use of pacifiers as do not. The following information on best practices provides an overview of the research findings, implications, and recommendations for pacifier use in relation to breastfeeding, SIDS, infection, and dental malocclusion in “Early childhood pacifier use in relation to breastfeeding, SIDS, infection and dental malocclusion.”
Pacifiers and Breastfeeding
Of the available studies on the effects of pacifier use on breastfeeding, an inconsistency in definitions and measurement outcomes leads researchers to conclude that the current data is inconclusive. However, all but one study reviewed in the article reported that pacifier use reduced breastfeeding duration or exclusivity. That pacifier use causes babies to breastfeed less is plausible; however, a causal relationship between pacifiers and a reduction in breastfeeding duration or exclusivity has yet to be determined. In other words, a correlation between pacifier use and reduced breastfeeding appears to exist but the correlation has yet to be determined to be causal.
Pacifiers and SIDS
Pacifier use is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS. The presence of a pacifier may protect a baby’s airway, may lessen the likelihood of apnea, or may reduce high-risk infant sleep behaviors such as placing babies to sleep on their stomachs; however, researchers are reluctant to recommend pacifiers because the mechanisms by which pacifiers protect against SIDS are still unknown.
Pacifiers and Infections
No conclusions can be drawn on the connection between pacifier use and infection.
Pacifiers and Dental Malocclusion
No conclusions can be drawn on the connection between pacifier use and dental problems.
The final recommendation of the article states: “As breastfeeding confers an important advantage on all children and the incidence of SIDS is very low, it is recommended that health professionals generally advise parents against pacifier use, while taking into account individual circumstances.” In summary, although pacifiers may be beneficial for some young children, pacifier use in general is not advised.
Early Childhood Pacifier Use in Relation to Breastfeeding, SIDS, Infection and Dental Malocclusion. 2006. Nursing Standard 20(38). 52-55. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16764367
Pacifier Dummy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/piulet/3304228771/ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)