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Risks and Benefits of Pacifiers - Article
ABSTRACT: Physicians are often asked for guidance about pacifier use in children, especially regarding the benefits and risks, and when to appropriately wean a child. The benefits of pacifier use include analgesic effects, shorter hospital stays for preterm infants, and a reduction in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Pacifiers have been studied and recommended for pain relief in newborns and infants undergoing common, minor procedures in the emergency department (e.g., heel sticks, immunizations, venipuncture). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents consider offering pacifiers to infants one month and older at the onset of sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Potential complications of pacifier use, particularly with prolonged use, include a negative effect on breastfeeding, dental malocclusion, and otitis media. Adverse dental effects can be evident after two years of age, but mainly after four years. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that mothers be educated about pacifier use in the immediate postpartum period to avoid difficulties with breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend weaning children from pacifiers in the second six months of life to prevent otitis media. Pacifier use should not be actively discouraged and may be especially beneficial in the first six months of life.