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Maternal and Child Health Bureau logoA Health Professionals Guide to Pediatric Oral Health Management
HomeModuleModule 1: An Introduction to Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 3: Oral Conditions and AbnormalitiesModule 4: Prevention of Oral DiseaseModule 5: Non-Nutritive Sucking HabitsModule 6: Oral InjuryModule 7: Infants and Young Children with Special Health Care NeedsContentsGlossaryEvaluationHelp
Module 5: Non-nutritive Sucking Habits
Module Contents
Overview
5.1 Sucking — A Normal, Healthy Reflex
5.2 Childhood Patterns of Non-nutritive Sucking (current page)
5.3 Choosing a Pacifier
5.4 Effects of
Non-nutritive Sucking
Habits
 
 
5.5 Interventions for
Non-nutritive Sucking
Habits
 
 
Key Points
Post-Test
References
Additional Resources



5.2 Childhood Patterns of Non-nutritive Sucking

FACT
exclamation point graphicEarly studies reported that 70 to 90 percent of young children have some history of non-nutritive sucking.

 

Early studies reported that 70 to 90 percent of young children have some history of non-nutritive sucking. Other studies report that almost 100 percent of infants engage in non-nutritive sucking.[2]

As children become older, the prevalence of non-nutritive sucking habits decreases, with most children discontinuing these habits between the ages of 2 and 4. One study reported that over 50 percent of children in the study discontinued non-nutritive sucking habits by ages 26-28 months, 71 percent discontinued by age 36 months, and 90 percent discontinued by age 48 months.[2]

Children who suck pacifiers generally discontinue the habit at an earlier age than children who suck fingers or a thumb. Factors that have been associated with prolonged sucking habits are older maternal age, higher maternal education, and no older siblings.[3]

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