Pacifier usage is controversial, and published recommendations are contradictory. The purposes of this literature review were to provide a comprehensive summary of risks and benefits of pacifier usage based upon the highest levels of evidence available and to provide a reference for nurses to utilize while assisting mothers in making an informed decision. Results indicated that benefits include reported ability to soothe/comfort, decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, and a probable synergistic role in adjunctive pain relief. Greatest risks are an increased incidence of acute otitis media, possible negative impact on breast-feeding, and dental malocclusion particularly if usage is greater than 2-3 years. The frequency, intensity, and duration of pacifier use are related to type and extent of all risks.
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