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Thumb Sucking Increases Risk of Speech Impediments

By Admin / Published on Thursday, 06 Apr 2017 06:59 AM / Comments Off on Thumb Sucking Increases Risk of Speech Impediments / 227 views

Child Sucking ThumbA lot of us sucked on our thumbs when we were little. Some of us even did it while still in the womb, which is why the action could be associated with feelings of safety and comfort. Some of us grew out of the habit, some of us didn’t — much to the concern of mothers everywhere.

Their concerns are not unfounded, however. Prolonged thumb sucking could result in an overbite and other dental complications that sometimes require long-term treatment and even an operation to fix. Furthermore, the seemingly innocuous habit could lead to speech impediments.

Three Times Increased Risk

Researchers from the University of Washington Multidisciplinary International Research Training Program studied 128 preschoolers from Chile. They found that the ones who sucked their thumbs or used a pacifier for more than three years were three times more likely to develop speech impediments. Children who were breastfed until they were at least nine months old, on the other hand, were less likely to develop them.

Lead Researcher Dr. Clarita Barbosa concluded that the prolonged sucking action outside of breastfeeding could negatively affect speech development in young children. She added further that there’s still a need for a broader study since their data was only observational.

Being Proactive is the Key

A speech problem may hold a child back in school and later in life. The key, therefore, is to address the issue early. Speech Tails, for example, is a system developed by a speech-language pathologist to address speech impediments before they become severe.

Moreover, parents should be proactive. If they notice that their children are having difficulty pronouncing words or speaking in general, they should consult with a professional right away.

There’s still a need for a more detailed study to clearly determine why extended thumb sucking makes children develop speech problems. Whatever the reason behind the impediment, though, addressing it early on will prevent it from getting worse.