Digit-Sucking Among Ibo Infants In Eastern Nigeria

  • RC Ibekwe
  • NS Ibeziako
  • BC Ibe
  • MAU Ibekwe


Background: Digit-sucking is a common habit among infants and toddlers, it is a normal adaptive process and attempts at stopping are discouraged before 2-4 years of age. Prevalence varies along racial lines. This study is intended to document the prevalence and pattern of this habit among Ibo infants and also to determine maternal attitude and response to it Method: This is a crosssectional study on infant digit-sucking habit. Subjects were the mother/ infant pairs that attended the well baby clinics at the Institute of Child Health of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospi tal , Enugu (ICHUNTH), Mother of Christ Specialist Hospital (MCSH), Enugu and the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital (EBSUTH), Abakaliki, between March and May 2006. Results: One hundred and forty eight (30.8%) infants digit-suck. The right fingers (66.5%) and the thumbs (42.25%) were the digits most frequently sucked. The prevalence of digit-sucking do not vary with sex (Χ² = 1.17, p = 0.28) and infants' age (Χ² = 49.79, p = 0.08). Hunger (71.7%) was the most common condition in which the infants suck their digits, followed by anger (6.7%) and sleep (6.1%). Most mothers (67.70%) had a negative perception to digitsucking and 69.59% of the mothers had attempted to stop the habit in their infants. Methods employed by the mothers include restraint (78.21%), and topical application of bitter substances (23.04%) and pepper (11.37%). Conclusion: digit-sucking is a common habit among Ibo infants and most mothers have negative attitude towards it, majority of which had attempted to stop this habit in their infants using mostly deterrent methods.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0302-4660