Exclusive breast-feeding is associated with reduced pacifier sucking in children: Breast-feeding and pacifier-sucking habit

Isaac Suzart Gomes-Filho, Suélem Maria Santana Pinheiro, Graciete Oliveira Vieira, Técia Daltro Borges Alves, Simone Seixas da Cruz, Ana Claudia Morais Godoy Figueiredo, Eduardo Luiz Andrade Mota, Nelson Fernandes de Oliveira, Johelle de Santana Passos-Soares, Soraya Castro Trindade, Tatiana Oliveira Vieira, Peter Michael Loomer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Studies suggest that when children do not achieve the emotional satiety and adequate stimulus provided by breast-feeding, they exhibit sucking behaviors. This study aimed to estimate the association from 4 through 6 months of exclusive breast-feeding (EB) postpartum and pacifier-sucking behavior at 12 months of life. Methods: A cohort study was conducted with 1,037 infants, born alive and monitored up to 12 months. At 4 and 6 months after birth, the children were classified according to the type of breast-feeding they had received: exclusive, predominant, complementary, or none. The prevalence of pacifier-sucking behavior was calculated, and the association between the 2 events was estimated. Mothers’ socioeconomic-demographic characteristics, delivery features, and prenatal care, as well as the biological characteristics of the children, were determined. Relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated. Results: In comparison with EB infants, the RR of pacifier-sucking behavior at 12 months of life was higher in children receiving complementary breast-feeding or no breast-feeding for both 4 months (RRadjusted, 1.68 [95% CI, 1.39 to 2.02] and RRadjusted, 2.67 [95% CI, 2.24 to 3.17], respectively) and 6 months (RRadjusted, 1.43 [95% CI, 1.03 to 2.00] and RRadjusted, 3.30 [95% CI, 2.40 to 4.54], respectively). Conclusions and Practical Implications: EB for 6 months postpartum is associated with reduced pacifier-sucking behavior, adjusted for maternal color, number of prenatal consultations, and family income. Promotion of EB may reduce the use of pacifiers and their potential deleterious effects on oral health. Dental health care professionals should consider discussing the importance of breast-feeding with their patients with regard to the possible development of sucking habits in their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-947
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast-feeding
  • epidemiology
  • pacifiers
  • sucking behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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