UW Study: Pacifier use with little boys may stunt growth

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MADISON -- A UW Madison study shows that parents who use pacifiers on their crying baby boys might be stunting their children’s emotions in later years.

It shows that the frequent use of pacifiers can limit the emotional development of boys. That’s because they’re not able to mimic other people’s facial expressions and they don’t learn the emotions behind those expressions.

UW psychology professor Paula Niedenthal says people of all ages read each other’s emotions partially by imitating their facial expressions and it helps them understand what others may be thinking. After evaluating 6- and 7-year-old boys, those who spent more time with pacifiers were less likely to mimic the facial expressions of people in a video. College-aged men with heavy pacifier usage scored lower in showing empathy but the same trends did not show up in girls who were given pacifiers. They were still able to make satisfactory emotional progress.

The UW’s findings were published Tuesday the journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

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