Pacifiers, or the Binky as it's called in our house, may help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports pacifiers have a protective effect, especially when used at the time of last sleep.
The mechanism for this apparent strong protective effect is still unclear, but several mechanisms such as lowered arousal thresholds have been proposed.
However, the AAP does NOT recommend the use of pacifiers as a risk reducing method because their are downsides to its use.
Personally, my four-year-old son used a Binky until he was three-years-old. I know, we should have gotten rid of it earlier, but that is the only way he would sleep through the night. He is 4 1/2 now and still wakes up repeatedly. He started having night terrors shortly after we got rid of the pacifier.
Speech pathologists point to the pacifier as a reason for delayed speech and problems forming certain words.
And I think we have all heard about the dental problems a pacifier may cause.
Some dental malocclusions(teeth are not lined up properly) have been found more commonly among pacifier users than nonusers, but the differences generally disappeared after cessation. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry policy statement on oral habits states that “non nutritive sucking behaviors (ie, finger or pacifier) are considered normal in infants and young children … and in general, sucking habits in children to the age of five are unlikely to cause any long-term problems.”
The AAP is concerned about the pacifier's impact on breastfeeding.
Although several studies have shown a correlation between pacifiers and reduced breastfeeding duration, the results of well-designed randomized clinical trials indicate that pacifiers do not seem to cause shortened breastfeeding duration for term and pre-term infants. One study reported a small deleterious effect of pacifier introduction in the first week of life on breastfeeding at 1 month of age, but this effect did not persist beyond 1 month.
There is an approximate 1.2- to 2-fold increased risk of otitis media (ear infection) associated with pacifier use, but the incidence of otitis media is generally lower in the first year of life, especially the first 6 months, when the risk of SIDS is the highest. However, pacifier use, once established, may persist beyond 6 months, thus increasing the risk of otitis media. Gastrointestinal infections and oral colonization with Candida species(yeast infection) were found to be more common among pacifier users.
My second son wanted nothing to do with a pacifier and I am grateful. Losing the Binky and searching the house for the one that he likes the best what a major pain the first time around. I am glad I only had to go through that once.
How about you? Did your kids use or are they using a pacifier? Was getting rid of it a big deal at your house?