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Dr Sarah Raphael adds Specialist Paediatric Dentist perspective to Daily Telegraph article on dummy use

No link found between dummy use and speech development
Daily Telegraph article published 7 October 2018 

To dummy or not to dummy — it’s the question that has plagued new parents for over a century but a new study reveals children’s speech development is no worse off for having used a pacifier.

A new University of Sydney study that examined the “sucking behaviours” of 199 Australian preschoolers found using dummies, bottles and thumb-sucking in the early years did not cause or worsen “phonological impairment” — the most common speech disorder in kids.

Dr Elise Baker from the university’s faculty of health sciences said dummy use has long been a contentious topic among parents, many of whom have wrongly believed that dummies will lead to poor speech.

“Certainly across social media and mums groups, everyone seems to have their own opinion about dummies,” said Dr Baker, lead author of the study published in Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica.

“However our study shows no connection between dummy use in the early years and the presence or severity of the most common type of childhood speech problem.”

The study showed 58 per cent of children had used a dummy with three in four using it for 12 months or more.

Dr Baker said the findings suggested speech delay was not related to the mouth but rather how kids learn the sound system of language.

However, dummies remain a source of concern among other health experts who say they can lead to a condition called “open bite” — where the upper and lower jaw are unable to meet — if used extensively.

Specialist Paediatric Dentist Dr Sarah Raphael from the Australian Dental Association NSW said she didn’t recommend the use of dummies beyond the age of three because the damage was “less reversible”.

“You grow your whole life but 0-3 is a very rapid period of growth and then it starts to tail off, as do the chances to correct those changes that have happened because the dummy has been in the front of the mouth,” Dr Raphael said.

Read the Daily Telegraph article

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