Not All Pacifiers Are Created Equal: A Mechanical Examination of Pacifiers and Their Influence on Suck Patterning Purpose Many pacifier companies advertise that their product is the “best choice” to support proper sucking, feeding, and dental development; however, very little evidence exists to support these claims. As the primary differences across pacifiers are structural and mechanical, the goals of this study were to measure such properties of ... Research Article
Research Article  |   November 08, 2017
Not All Pacifiers Are Created Equal: A Mechanical Examination of Pacifiers and Their Influence on Suck Patterning
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Emily Zimmerman
    Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
  • Jaclene Forlano
    Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
  • Andrew Gouldstone
    Department of Mechanical Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Emily Zimmerman: e.zimmerman@neu.edu
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Julie Barkmeier-Kraemer
    Associate Editor: Julie Barkmeier-Kraemer×
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Research Articles
Research Article   |   November 08, 2017
Not All Pacifiers Are Created Equal: A Mechanical Examination of Pacifiers and Their Influence on Suck Patterning
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2017, Vol. 26, 1202-1212. doi:10.1044/2017_AJSLP-16-0226
History: Received November 16, 2016 , Revised May 1, 2017 , Accepted July 13, 2017
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2017, Vol. 26, 1202-1212. doi:10.1044/2017_AJSLP-16-0226
History: Received November 16, 2016; Revised May 1, 2017; Accepted July 13, 2017

Purpose Many pacifier companies advertise that their product is the “best choice” to support proper sucking, feeding, and dental development; however, very little evidence exists to support these claims. As the primary differences across pacifiers are structural and mechanical, the goals of this study were to measure such properties of commercially available pacifiers and to examine how these properties alter suck patterning in healthy, full-term infants.

Method Seven commonly utilized pacifiers were mechanically tested for pull and compression stiffness levels and categorized into nipple shape types based on their aspect ratio. Next, 3 pacifiers (Soothie, GumDrop, and Freeflow) with the most salient differences in pull stiffness levels with 2 different pacifier nipple types were tested clinically on 16 full-term infants (≤ 6 months old) while measuring non-nutritive suck (NNS).

Results A repeated measures analysis of variance revealed significant differences between NNS burst duration (p = .002), NNS cycles per burst (p = .002), and NNS cycles per minute (p = .006) and pacifier type. With each significant dependent measure, pairwise comparisons showed that the GumDrop and Freeflow pacifiers differed significantly on these measures.

Conclusions Pacifier compression, pull stiffness, and nipple shape type yield different NNS dynamics. These findings motivate further investigation into pacifier properties and suck patterning in young infants.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank the participants in the study as well as Nathan Streeter, BS, for completing the mechanical testing of the pacifiers.
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