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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557
On-line version ISSN 1678-4782


SANTOS, Shirley A. dos et al. Nonnutritive sucking habits among preschool-aged children. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2009, vol.85, n.5, pp.408-414. ISSN 0021-7557.

OBJECTIVE: To verify the prevalence and factors associated with nonnutritive sucking habits in preschool-aged children attending daycare centers and preschools in Natal, Brazil. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted with 1,190 children of both sexes, aged 3 to 5 years, enrolled in daycare centers and preschools in Natal, Brazil. Exclusion criteria were: children with cleft lip and palate, temporomandibular joint disorders, or submitted to orthodontic and/or orthopedic treatment; as well as institutions specialized in children with disabilities. Parents or guardians answered a structured questionnaire providing information on the institution, children's sex and age, parents' educational level, and habit-related questions. Data analysis was performed using the chi-square test and logistic regression. RESULTS: A prevalence of 40.2% of nonnutritive sucking habits was obtained; of these, 27.7% were pacifier-sucking and 12.5% were finger-sucking habits. Girls showed a higher percentage of sucking habits, especially finger sucking (p = 0.02); younger children showed a higher prevalence of pacifier-sucking habits (p = 0.0006). A higher frequency of pacifier- and finger-sucking habits was associated, respectively, with parents' higher education (p < 0.05) and elementary education (p < 0.05). Logistic regression revealed that younger individuals (p = 0.033) and secondary education level of parents (p = 0.035) are independent factors for habit persistence. CONCLUSION: A high prevalence of nonnutritive sucking habits was verified, highlighting younger age groups and secondary education level of parents as important associated factors.

Keywords : Sucking behavior; prevalence studies; preschool-aged children.

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