WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- A pacifier is fine for a while, but don't let your child use one too long, experts say.
In a study of 128 children aged 3 to 5 in Patagonia, Chile, researchers found that children who used a pacifier or sucked their fingers for more than three years were three times as likely as other kids to develop speech impediments.
The study, published online in the journal BMC Pediatrics, also found that children will have a lower risk of developing speech disorders if they don't start using bottles until they're at least 9 months old.
"These results suggest extended use of sucking outside of breast-feeding may have detrimental effects on speech development in young children," study author Clarita Barbosa, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.
"Although results of this study provide further evidence for the benefits of longer duration of breast-feeding of infants, they should be interpreted with caution as these data are observational," Barbosa added.
The study doesn't prove that there's a direct cause-and-effect relationship between use of pacifiers and bottles and speech impediments, the researchers noted.
Learn more about breast-feeding from the U.S. National Women's Health Information Center.