Conflicting News on Pacifier Use

09.20.12 New studies find heavy pacifier use in boys during the day leads to stunted emotional development.


Apparently, pacifiers and baby boys don't mix. Three studies suggest pacifiers may disrupt emotional development in boys, the Los Angeles Times reports. The three studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, published in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology, arrives after a different study recently said that pacifiers were actually good for all babies.

Researchers say a baby with a pacifier in his mouth is less likely and able to mirror expressions and emotions. The findings show that there are no similar effects on girls from pacifier use.

One of the studies found that "6- and 7-year-old boys who had used pacifiers commonly when they were younger were less likely than other boys to mimic the smiles and frowns of faces on a video screen in front of them — a test of kids' interpersonal empathy," according to the L.A. Times article.

The second study found that college-aged men who reported pacifier use as children scored lower when tested for the ability "to assume someone else's point of view," the L.A. Times article says. The final study also tested college students who used pacifiers as babies and discovered that they scored low on making decisions based on understanding the feelings of others.

But why boys and not girls? Researchers suggest "girls develop earlier in many ways, and it's possible that they make sufficient progress in emotional development before or despite pacifier use," in a release from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

These latest findings are just adding to the debate over pacifiers. Recently, a study found that pacifiers actually encouraged breastfeeding. Check out our Pacifier Pros and Cons page for the good and the bad about giving your baby a binkie.