Pacifier habit: history and multidisciplinary view

Silvia Diez Castilho Marco Antônio Mendes Rocha About the authors

OBJECTIVES: To review the history of pacifiers and to compile a multidisciplinary literature review, searching for pros and cons with the purpose of providing health professionals with arguments when parents request guidance. SOURCES: History and art books, as well as non-medical literature and museums were used in the historical survey. Multidisciplinary data were collected from MEDLINE, LILACS, SciELO, and The Cochrane Library. Search criteria were: the keyword "pacifiers" present in articles published in the last 5 years that included abstract and were written in Portuguese, English, or Spanish. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: There is evidence that their precursors have been used since the Neolithic Period to calm down children. Small balls made of fabric containing food were portrayed in paintings. Other balls made of non-perishable material persisted throughout time. Pacifiers have been used to stimulate sucking or to coordinate this reflex, promoting an earlier beginning of the oral feeding of newborns. Some authors suggest that pacifiers reduce the incidence of the sudden death syndrome, but the topic is controversial. Pacifiers prevent the establishment of breastfeeding and lead to weaning. Their use may cause suffocation, poisoning, or allergies and increases the risk of caries, infections, and intestinal parasitic diseases. Harmful effects are related to frequency, duration, and intensity of the habit. It should be discontinued by the age of 3 or 4 in order not to affect speech and dentition. CONCLUSIONS: There are more harmful effects than benefits. It is advisable that health professionals inform parents of the pros and cons of pacifiers so that they can make a conscious decision regarding its use.

Pacifier; sucking behavior


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