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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Interventions for the cessation of non‐nutritive sucking habits in children

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, March 2015
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (96th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (81st percentile)

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Interventions for the cessation of non‐nutritive sucking habits in children
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, March 2015
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd008694.pub2
Pubmed ID

Felicity RP Borrie, David R Bearn, Nicola PT Innes, Zipporah Iheozor-Ejiofor


Comforting behaviours, such as the use of pacifiers (dummies, soothers), blankets and finger or thumb sucking, are common in babies and young children. These comforting habits, which can be referred to collectively as 'non-nutritive sucking habits' (NNSHs), tend to stop as children get older, under their own impetus or with support from parents and carers. However, if the habit continues whilst the permanent dentition is becoming established, it can contribute to, or cause, development of a malocclusion (abnormal bite). A diverse variety of approaches has been used to help children with stopping a NNSH. These include advice, removal of the comforting object, fitting an orthodontic appliance to interfere with the habit, application of an aversive taste to the digit or behaviour modification techniques. Some of these interventions are easier to apply than others and less disturbing for the child and their parent; some are more applicable to a particular type of habit.  OBJECTIVES: The primary objective of the review was to evaluate the effects of different interventions for cessation of NNSHs in children. The secondary objectives were to determine which interventions work most quickly and are the most effective in terms of child and parent- or carer-centred outcomes of least discomfort and psychological distress from the intervention, as well as the dental measures of malocclusion (reduction in anterior open bite, overjet and correction of posterior crossbite) and cost-effectiveness. We searched the following electronic databases: the Cochrane Oral Health Group Trials Register (to 8 October 2014), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2014, Issue 9), MEDLINE via OVID (1946 to 8 October 2014), EMBASE via OVID (1980 to 8 October 2014), PsycINFO via OVID (1980 to 8 October 2014) and CINAHL via EBSCO (1937 to 8 October 2014), the US National Institutes of Health Trials Register (Clinical Trials.gov) (to 8 October 2014) and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (to 8 October 2014). There were no restrictions regarding language or date of publication in the searches of the electronic databases. We screened reference lists from relevant articles and contacted authors of eligible studies for further information where necessary. Randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials in children with a non-nutritive sucking habit that compared one intervention with another intervention or a no-intervention control group. The primary outcome of interest was cessation of the habit. We used standard methodological procedures expected by The Cochrane Collaboration. Three review authors were involved in screening the records identified; two undertook data extraction, two assessed risk of bias and two assessed overall quality of the evidence base. Most of the data could not be combined and only one meta-analysis could be carried out. We included six trials, which recruited 252 children (aged two and a half to 18 years), but presented follow-up data on only 246 children. Digit sucking was the only NNSH assessed in the studies. Five studies compared single or multiple interventions with a no-intervention or waiting list control group and one study made a head-to-head comparison. All the studies were at high risk of bias due to major limitations in methodology and reporting. There were small numbers of participants in the studies (20 to 38 participants per study) and follow-up times ranged from one to 36 months. Short-term outcomes were observed under one year post intervention and long-term outcomes were observed at one year or more post intervention. Orthodontics appliance (with or without psychological intervention) versus no treatmentTwo trials that assessed this comparison evaluated our primary outcome of cessation of habit. One of the trials evaluated palatal crib and one used a mix of palatal cribs and arches. Both trials were at high risk of bias. The orthodontic appliance was more likely to stop digit sucking than no treatment, whether it was used over the short term (risk ratio (RR) 6.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.67 to 25.53; two trials, 70 participants) or long term (RR 5.81, 95% CI 1.49 to 22.66; one trial, 37 participants) or used in combination with a psychological intervention (RR 6.36, 95% CI 0.97 to 41.96; one trial, 32 participants). Psychological intervention versus no treatmentTwo trials (78 participants) at high risk of bias evaluated positive reinforcement (alone or in combination with gaining the child's co-operation) or negative reinforcement compared with no treatment. Pooling of data showed a statistically significant difference in favour of the psychological interventions in the short term (RR 6.16, 95% CI 1.18 to 32.10; I(2) = 0%). One study, with data from 57 participants, reported on the long-term effect of positive and negative reinforcement on sucking cessation and found a statistically significant difference in favour of the psychological interventions (RR 6.25, 95% CI 1.65 to 23.65). Head-to-head comparisonsOnly one trial demonstrated a clear difference in effectiveness between different active interventions. This trial, which had only 22 participants, found a higher likelihood of cessation of habit with palatal crib than palatal arch (RR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.59). This review found low quality evidence that orthodontic appliances (palatal arch and palatal crib) and psychological interventions (including positive and negative reinforcement) are effective at improving sucking cessation in children. There is very low quality evidence that palatal crib is more effective than palatal arch. This review has highlighted the need for high quality trials evaluating interventions to stop non-nutritive sucking habits to be conducted and the need for a consolidated, standardised approach to reporting outcomes in these trials.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 57 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 533 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
South Africa 1 <1%
Unknown 532 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 72 14%
Student > Bachelor 57 11%
Student > Postgraduate 48 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 35 7%
Researcher 33 6%
Other 118 22%
Unknown 170 32%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 200 38%
Nursing and Health Professions 31 6%
Unspecified 29 5%
Psychology 28 5%
Social Sciences 16 3%
Other 40 8%
Unknown 189 35%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 51. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 19 October 2021.
All research outputs
of 25,368,786 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 11,482 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 279,254 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 232 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,368,786 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,482 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 39.9. This one has done well, scoring higher than 86% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 279,254 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 96% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 232 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 81% of its contemporaries.