If your baby started to suck their thumb, would you replace it with a dummy?

(75 Posts)
abigboydidit Mon 13-May-13 09:12:34

Just that really! DD (15 weeks) has suddenly became very sucky and discovered her thumb. A friend was visiting at the weekend and was horrified that I was letting her do so and went on to describe horror stories of her own DCs teeth being damaged by thumb sucking and how at least with a dummy you control when they have it.

This had never occurred to meblush I was just pleased she was soothing herself but I do see her point.. Any thoughts or experiences welcomed, thanks.

CheungFun Mon 13-May-13 09:16:54

DS was the same except he sucked his two fingers instead, he's now 16 months and he only sucks them when he's tired and wants a nap. My friends with babies the same age who have used dummies only let their babies have dummies for naps and at night. I don't think there's much difference tbh, just for me I didn't want to have to 'wean' DS off a dummy at a later stage.

I think it's personal preference really.

DaveyStott Mon 13-May-13 09:17:40

I didn't. I just let DD get on with it, & she stopped the thumb sucking herself at about 12mo.

blondiep14 Mon 13-May-13 09:19:22

Have 3 thumbsuckers (5, 3 and 7m), doesn't worry me, although it bothers many others!

I sucked my thumb but have no memories of stopping it so think it can't have been that traumatic.
I know others have had real issues stopping. MIL was still sucking her thumb when she married at 21 apparently!

I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I'm not worrying about it yet 'tho.

I personally don't like dummies (but wouldn't say it to someone using one for their child) so was pleased they all found their thumbs.

RandomMess Mon 13-May-13 09:21:30

Well I had a dummy sucker who was persuaded to chuck it at 5.

Then 2 x thumb suckers who we went throw torture getting to give up before they started orthodontic work.

The youngest was a finger sucker so we gave her a dummy based on the above and she finally gave it up about 7! (If you took it away she just sucked her thumb). Her school friend is almost 8 and her fingers are often often shoved in her mouth still.

So I would say dummy based on personal experience.

SirBoobAlot Mon 13-May-13 09:23:40

I did. I'm not a huge fan of dummies, but exP (DS's dad) really damaged his teeth by the amount he sucked his thumb. DS was doing it in utero, we saw it on the scan! And so when he was born, and had been doing it for a few weeks, we decided to introduce a dummy.

Like I say... I don't like the bloody things, but it seemed the better of the two options for our family.

Iwantmybed Mon 13-May-13 09:24:14

Personally I would although I prefer dummies to thumb sucking. Like mentioned above its personal preference. Having seen friends with stunted thumbs and buck teeth I don't really think its always harmless. I really like the dummy although only use it at sleep times its an indicator of when they should be asleep.

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 09:27:17

DD (7) is having private orthodontic treatment to correct thumbsucking damage. It is costing over £7k and will last until she stops growing.

I'd replace it with a dummy and then remove the dummy as soon as possible.

LifeofPo Mon 13-May-13 09:27:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LifeofPo Mon 13-May-13 09:28:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LifeofPo Mon 13-May-13 09:30:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

magichamster Mon 13-May-13 09:31:07

Ds1 is a thumb sucker, has been from the start. When I tried him with a dummy he would just take it out and stick his thumb back in. He's 11 now and only does it when he is tired. Just wanted to post this as sometimes you don't get a choice!

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 09:32:42

Because she is 7 and they don't do this treatment on the NHS. This will sort out her teeth and jaws without the need for removal of adult teeth smile

DS1 (now 14) also went through it for thumbsucking and the change was remarkable. His was considerably less though - damn inflation!

As it happens, DS2 (now 12) also had it, again, considerably cheaper than DD, because he always had his mouth open ("mouth breathing" I believe). Far less damage than the thumbsucking though.

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 09:33:55

Yes I would try to give him a dummy.

But...that's because I was a thumb sucker, and sucked my thumb until I was 17 and had a bar fitted in my mouth to stop me sucking while my teeth were straightened. Four painful years of braces is not fun.

A dummy can be taken away at some point, and with-held so it can only be used at bedtime etc.

dyslexicdespot Mon 13-May-13 09:35:55

I offered DS a dummy when he started sucking his thumb at a few weeks old. He lost interest in it a few weeks later and has never sucked his thumb since.

I was really worried about him developing a thumb sucking habit, and I say this as a avid adult thumb sucker! My parents tried everything to get me to give it up but nothing worked. Instead I suffered though about ten years of extensive orthodontic work to correct a massive over bight caused by my thumb. My teeth are perfect, but I would never want DS to have to go though what I did.

madamginger Mon 13-May-13 09:36:15

6 year old DD has sucked her thumb from being utero too. She has a really bad overbite now. Her adult teeth are coming in and I'm worried that she's going to need braces.
Ds1 had a dummy for that reason, and ds2 never bothered

Katnisscupcake Mon 13-May-13 09:36:45

My Dsis still sucks her thumb, she's 32. Her DD also sucks her thumb, now aged 8.

But far worse is the person I know who not only sucks her thumb, aged 36, but who sucks it while holding a blue sheet/rag/blanket type thing that she's had since she was a baby. When I first met her (friend of DH's) she told me about it so that I wouldn't be shocked hmm [shocked]!!

Luckily DD has never been bothered with dummies or thumb/finger-sucking, but looking at how bad DNiece's teeth are, I think I would opt for a dummy aswell...

HappyAsEyeAm Mon 13-May-13 09:37:07

My DS2 is a thumb sucker. He is only 13 mo old smile. He sucks his thumb less now that he did as a smaller baby, and basically only does it when he is upset or tired. He puts his thumb in his mouth whenever he gets changed into his sleepsuit and sleeping bag as he associates this with sleeping.

Its been a wonderful thing, in my very selfish opinion, as he has been able to satisfy and pacify himselfwith his thumb, and he has been the most contented baby I have ever seen. Which makes for a calm(ish) family! I also haven't had to deal with a dummy falling out,a nd having to put it back in for him and repeat that process every night.

Branleuse Mon 13-May-13 09:39:34

I trief but she wasn't interested. she still sucks her thumb at 5 and has an overbite from it but we are working on cutting it down

abigboydidit Mon 13-May-13 09:42:45

Oh crikey. So sorry to hear about all the dental work. I had never even considered it. Oddly, she's not sucking when tired or in bed, more when she's in her buggy or bouncy chair. Think I will keep an eye on it for a few days in case is just a passing fancy and if is still happening swap for a dummy. Have to admit I never fancied using them because of the re-plugging issue but we did use one successfully with DS to help him with daytime naps (just took it out of his mouth as he was dropping off).

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 09:45:00

Its been a wonderful thing, in my very selfish opinion, as he has been able to satisfy and pacify himselfwith his thumb

I used to think that too.

RandomMess Mon 13-May-13 09:45:22

Advantage of the dummy is that you can restrict it just to bed time - mine weren't children who were allowed to walk around with them in!! If they wanted their dummies they had to go to bed wink

RandomMess Mon 13-May-13 09:48:20

SoupDragon me too!!!! I nearly had to go down the orthotropics route but fortunately the 3rd orthodontist I saw agreed wholeheartedly to do expansion work on the eldest for £500 and then did the rest on the NHS (long story).

DD3 is now on expansion, DD4 seems to be fine so far and I think dropped the dummy only because it's too small for her to suck now effectively!

Yonihadtoask Mon 13-May-13 09:48:44

I really hate thumb sucking. Especiallywhen I see older children doing it. If nothing else, it's pretty unhygienic.

As a new parent I was determined to never give the PFB a dummy. However after a few days I caved in. He eventually gave it up at about 3 yo. Sigh.

But how on earth can you take away a thumb?

nowgotosleep Mon 13-May-13 09:53:02

My DD is a thumbsucker, she sucked her thumb in utero as we saw it on a scan. She didnt initially suck her thumb once born, but started again at 3 months. I have discouraged it as much as possible during the day, she generally only does it when going to sleep or if she gets hurt. I tried a dummy but she was not keen. However, my DS never sucked his thumb or had a dummy and he has a huge overbite anyway as it runs in my DH family. So I think I'm stuffed either way really!

Blatherskite Mon 13-May-13 10:03:48

My nephew is having to have lots of dental work done to repair damage done by 14 years of thumb sucking. His parents have tried everything from nasty tasting nail varnish to reminding him constantly in an effort to get him to stop and nothing has worked. He was in tears when he learned he had to have a brace sad but even that didn't stop him!

I would have definitely given a dummy to mine if they'd shown any interest in their thumbs - especially once the fSIDS guidance showing them to reduce the risk of cot death came in like it did when DD was born. I actively tried to get her to have one but she wanted none of it.

rootypig Mon 13-May-13 10:11:22

My aunt is an orthodontist, trained and practises in north America, where they're generally ahead of us on all matters teeth. She has advised me to give DD (finger sucker) an orthodontic dummy getting her to take it is another matter. I sucked my thumb til I was 14 blush, have had two rounds of orthodontics, and still not keen on the shape of my mouth.

lydiajones Mon 13-May-13 10:20:45

I wish I had given my oldest a dummy as he still sucks his thumb at night now (age 8) and his teeth are sticking forward. I usually go in and pull it out when he is sleeping! We have tried all sorts to help him stop (stop n grow, rewards etc.) but he just can't get to sleep without it now!

I gave my youngest a dummy and managed to get rid of it when he was 3.

Piffpaffpoff Mon 13-May-13 10:26:14

DS sucked this thumb, I didn't replace with a dummy and he gave it up about 2 or 3 - no impact on his teeth. Dd sucks her fingers, she's now 5, I can't get her to stop and her teeth are crooked. Dentist already flagged that she may need a referral to an orthodontist. I wish I'd given her a dummy.

If I had had any more DCs I would have given them a dummy at the first sign of any finger or thumb sucking.

WillSantaComeAgain Mon 13-May-13 10:29:13

Really not convinced that thumbsucking causes dental problems - having been an avid finger sucker till I was 13, and DH was a thumbsucker for years. Neither of us have had a day's worth of ortho treatment.

I can't imagine depriving my 2 year old of a comfort mechanism. Seems cruel to me.

LifeofPo Mon 13-May-13 10:34:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

abigboydidit Mon 13-May-13 10:34:37

sad WillSantaComeAgain. I honestly don't intend to be cruel to DD or deprive her of a comfort mechanism! I just wondered if I should switch the comfort of her thumb for a similar comforter which would be less likely to cause her harm. Glad to hear not all thumb suckers end up with wonky teeth though!

mawbroon Mon 13-May-13 10:40:08

Are you breastfeeding OP?

DS2 started sucking his thumb when he was a few weeks old and I managed to stop him by offering him a breastfeed every time he did it.

RandomMess Mon 13-May-13 10:49:35

Whether or not it causes issues depends on how you suck and on genetics too but it is a risk of it.

I'm 30, and I still suck my thumb. blush My bottom teeth are awful, but thankfully my top ones aren't bad. I had braces, plates, gunk painted on my thumb, gloves, and I still automatically try to suck my thumb when I'm tired. My thumb nail is awful too.

DD is 3, she had a dummy, but gave it up several months ago, without any problems (we were very lucky!) If DC2 starts sucking it's thumb once it's here, I will be getting dummies in asap.

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 10:56:28

WillSantaComeAgain It causes changes to the shape of the face as well.

DSs orthodontist looked at my face, not my teeth, and said "You were a thumbsucker". My teeth were fine (until my wisdom teeth came in) with absolutely no orthodontic treatment.

I'm sure there are lots of people who smoked 40 a day and lived to 99. That doesn't mean smoking doesn't kill.

I find your comment about depriving a 2 year old a comfort object being cruel rather offensive. With hindsight, I wish I'd been that cruel rather than have to deal with the tears of this orthodontic treatment and the hours I've had to spend being firm and harsh and insisting they put the brace back in.

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 10:58:32

The only thing that stopped DS1 sucking his thumb was when the brace and orthodontic treatment got to the point where he could no longer get his thumb in his mouth. Even then I used to find him with his thumb touching his lips in a sucking position when I went to kiss him good night.

WillSantaComeAgain Mon 13-May-13 10:59:30

Sorry OP, I didn't mean to suggest you were cruel! I just can't imagine DD not sucking her thumb now! It also lets me know when she's feeling tired/insecure and so I know she needs a hug. If she didn't have her comforter on her (i.e. she used a dummy and was only allowed it at sleepy time) then I'd worry I'd miss out on a crucial tell!

I've just always been intrigued as to HOW it causes problems, particularly when I was the worst finger sucker in the family and the only one not to need braces!!

RandomMess Mon 13-May-13 10:59:44

Mine also had comfort cuddlies as well as dummies/thumbs and they still have them. Also converting them to dummies when they are young isn't depriving them you are replacing a potential comfort item with a substitute.

RandomMess Mon 13-May-13 11:02:11

X-posts you just learn other clues Will.

I used to think mine looked so cute sucking their thumbs and snuggling their bunnies <<bashes head on nearest wall>>

polkadotsrock Mon 13-May-13 11:13:22

My ds sucked his thumb but stopped himself pretty much as soon as he could find his mouth immediately and stopped poking himself in the eye en route confused. He was maybe 3/4 months, he's 18 months now and it's never reappeared

Blatherskite Mon 13-May-13 11:37:13

A swap from thumb to dummy is painless. You're not depriving them of a comfort mechanism, you're just swapping one to the other.

Years worth of braces and orthodontic treatment are much more uncomfortable and even painful sometimes. I had a brace even without being a thumb sucker and that thing hurt sometimes!

I know which I'd rather.

MaryPoppinsBag Mon 13-May-13 13:29:31

My 2 had dummies, we got rid if them they were 3. Painlessly and with no damage to their mouths or teeth.

I look after a 3.5 year old mindee who sucks his thumb. Apart from being unhygienic when he holds my hand, it cannot help his speech delay/ problem forming words properly and I can see how his teeth already stick out and his mouth shape is different to my son's.

He sucks it during quiet times where as if he had a dummy that was restricted to bedtimes only he wouldn't be able to. I have started telling him to take his thumb out, to encourage not do it.

I'd go for a dummy any day!

gourd Mon 13-May-13 13:40:21

Ours sucked her thumb around 12/13 weeks - basically this was around the time she noticed she had them and could put them in her mouth but she only did it for about a week before realising she could hold and suck on other things that were more interesting! Babies put things in their mouths to explore them. I don’t think this means your child will be a thumb sucker in later life. I don’t see how you can force a BABY to not suck their thumb either! If it becomes a problem in later years there are techniques and horrible tasting anti-nail-bite stuff you put on nails to try to stop nail-biting or thumb sucking, but for now just let your baby explore things.

gourd Mon 13-May-13 13:44:09

I also think you will find removing a dummy from your child very hard to do if your child takes to it. I would have thought that telling them as soon as they are old enough to understand (toddler up) that sucking thumb will damage their teeth and/or using rewards for not sucking and/or horrid tasting goo etc would be better than deliberately introducing a dummy then removing it.. But none of this may be necessary anyway.

shufflehopstep Mon 13-May-13 13:50:56

I sucked my thumb until I was about 5 or 6 and had no dental problems as a result of it. My mum and dad maintain that I still do it now when I'm really tired, but I have no awareness of this! hmm DD started sucking her thumb at around 2 months but tends to only do it when she's tired. I really don't understand why some people make such a big deal over it. If your child is a bit older and their teeth are suffering then obviously you will need to try some techniques to wean them off it but otherwise, if it offers them comfort, leave them to it. Most children stop themselves once they get to school anyway.

Longdistance Mon 13-May-13 13:58:39

I have a 22mo thumb sucker. She only does it when she's tired or upset ie; dd1 takes a toy off her.

I was very happy when she started sucking her thumb, as dd1 didn't like any soothers and was a nightmare to get to sleep, nap and comfort her.

I won't discourage her, as it comforts her.

I wouldn't offer a dummy myself.

meglet Mon 13-May-13 14:06:29

I'd try and persuade them to use a dummy instead of their thumb.

You can bin a dummy but you can't bin a thumb.

DS is in his 6th year of thumb sucking (he refused a dummy) and I'm buggered if I know how we're going to crack it. If he's sleeping with it in then I try and take it out, but it's stuck tight like a limpet.

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 14:25:12

DSs orthodontist recommends long rugby type socks, put on both arms under PJs. I reckon a pair of tights worn like a shrug would be more effective. He believes that if you crack night time sucking, daytime will follow.

LifeofPo Mon 13-May-13 14:27:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EvidenceBasedMum Mon 13-May-13 14:28:36

I think you have very little control over it and lots of dummy-suckers will promptly replace their dummy with a thumb once the dummy is taken away.

I am delighted my 7 month old sucks her thumb as it has made a huge difference to her sleep and am not planning on worrying about it until she is much older (and can be bribed to stop!). As far as I am aware there is no association with speech issues either (unlike dummies)

And, although no form of evidence and purely my own experience, I sucked my thumb until my late teens / early 20s (obviously only in secret) and have lovely teeth and never needed braces...

SoupDragon Mon 13-May-13 14:29:13

telling them as soon as they are old enough to understand (toddler up) that sucking thumb will damage their teeth and/or using rewards for not sucking and/or horrid tasting goo etc

Good luck with that.

LifeofPo Mon 13-May-13 14:32:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MsCellophane Mon 13-May-13 14:44:07

Thumbsucking very often (nearly always) changes the shape of the jaw and pallate - as as the child grows the face grows around the thumb which causes the buck tooth look but it's the jaw that is mishapen

Dummies are softer so don't cause such bad issues and most dummies are stopped age 2-4, long before growing has finished

One of mine was a thumb sucker, so I would remove the thumb and replace with a dummy. We removed the dummies when she was 2 but she started to suck her finger. Which has caused her huge problems. Her upper jaw is narrow, and her teeth don't sit together, she has a perfect finger shaped hole between her teeth. We tried to fix it with braces but had to wait until she stopped sucking as no brace is stronger than a thumb or a finger. The treatment was so painful she didn't complete it. She hates her teeth and still wakes up some mornings with the finger in her mouth - she is early twenties. She is saving up for very expensive orthodontist work. She is also having a terrible time with her wisdom teeth, already having one removed and it's likely she will need the others taken out too

The others were all content with dummies. They had slightly mishapen teeth whist using but they straightened out once the dummy was stopped. We only used it for sleeping so in bed and the car/buggy occasionally and no one had it older than 3. No teeth/jaw issues, all adult now

If we could go back, we would have tried much harder to stop the finger sucking, maybe keeping the dummy for a little bit longer.

Really not convinced that thumbsucking causes dental problems - having been an avid finger sucker till I was 13, and DH was a thumbsucker for years. Neither of us have had a day's worth of ortho treatment.

It did for me - it has clearly altered the shape of my palate which is VERY rounded, and my thumb fits perfectly in it. It fact my palate is so round that it pushes against my nasal passages, making them slightly smaller.

I was a thumbsucker for 17 years (was born with it in my mouth apparently!), I had four years of permanant braces, 4 perfectly healthy teeth removed and a further two years of removable retainers.

(and can be bribed to stop!)

Yeah. Cos my mum didn't try bribing me. Chocolate, treats, etc, plus nasty tasting stuff on my thumb never made a blind bit of difference.

RandomMess Mon 13-May-13 19:58:29

We did the sock with tape wrapped around them - with dds agreement I hasten to add!

raisinggirls Mon 13-May-13 20:01:09

DD1 never a thumb sucker, DD2 had a dummy until she found her thumb, then only wanted her thumb. Stopped sucking her thumb at 5 months when her first 2 teeth came through.

They are all different, but I totally take everyone's point about dental work. My brother and sister were both thumb suckers, I wasn't, and they both had traintrack braces with headgear. I didn't.

sneezecakesmum Mon 13-May-13 20:07:21

Extended thumbsucking can sometimes have a detrimental affect on teeth but so can dummies if left too long (but at least you have the dummy fairy on your side grin )

However if a 15 week old baby has never had a dummy before, especially a bf one, you dont have a cat in hells chance of her taking to it.

surely as long as the child stops sucking the thumb by the time the adult teeth come through there will be no problems?
so whats the big deal?

HandMini Mon 13-May-13 20:10:37

OP, I have DD2 a similar age to yours and I have pushed dummy on her in place of thumb. She started going for the thumb from birth, but I am really wary about thumb sucking. My sister had terrible orthodontic issues from thumb sucking.

trixymalixy Mon 13-May-13 20:18:08

I would try to replace with a dummy. It is much harder to stop them sucking a thumb than getting rid of a dummy.

I still suck my fingers and my parents tried everything to stop me. Thankfully (and luckily) I don't have problems with my teeth.

My two had dummies. DD gave hers up herself at about 1 and DS has his until 5 as he would suck his thumb when we took it away so we gave it back as I really didn't want him to be a thumb sucker.

Piemother Mon 13-May-13 20:28:21

Exh and I both thumb sucked as kids. No tooth issues.
Dd1 thumb sucked as soon as she was able but at 3 almost never does it during the day only going to sleep with no intervention from me.
Dd2 seems to have stopped finger sucking at 6 months. Pain in the arse she has stopped self settling!
I would never give a dummy though.

dyslexicdespot Mon 13-May-13 20:31:17

The big deal is that it is many people find it very hard to stop sucking their thumbs/fingers, even if they want to. I was desperate to stop once it became incredibly embarrassing, but to no avail.

abigboydidit Mon 13-May-13 21:00:55

Wow. This has been a total eye opener. I had no idea quite how much damage thumb sucking could cause and I really never appreciated how hard people who want to stop find it to give up. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply.

SoupDragon Tue 14-May-13 07:27:24

surely as long as the child stops sucking the thumb by the time the adult teeth come through there will be no problems?
so whats the big deal?

The big deal is that you are wrong.

meglet Tue 14-May-13 09:24:52

whiteandyellow because by that age they aint taking that thumb out for love nor money, or Lego minifigures, or warnings about crooked teeth and braces.

maybe i was just lucky with dd, as she sucked her thumb as a baby and small toddler and it was very handy, she used to get herself of to sleep as a baby sucking it, she was also sucking it in the womb too

then when she was about preschool age, we started putting plasters on it and telling her not to do it anymore
we also used stop and grow and gloves at night time

now she does not do it, her teeth are lovely

i know people that have had nightmare with dummys, when it comews to taking them away, and when they fall out in the night and babies cant find them
and speech problems

but maybe we are just lucky dd stopped at quite a good age

it was dds dentist that told mre as long as thumb suckers stop it before the adult teeth come through it doesnt cause any problems

Weegiemum Tue 14-May-13 09:49:21

My older dc (dd1 and ds) had dummies. Dd2 was sucking before she was born, and still sucks her thumb age 9. We're facing extensive orthodontic input fr her.

Ds, though he's pat the dummy out at about 7 mo, still is going to need a brace because of his crowded mouth/small jaw.

*surely as long as the child stops sucking the thumb by the time the adult teeth come through there will be no problems?
so whats the big deal?*

It is the PALATE that changes shape too - not just the teeth. Like I said before, my own palate is perfectly formed to the shape of my thumb, it's pushed very high in the middle.

10storeylovesong Tue 14-May-13 14:18:47

I know a lot of people don't like dummies for various reasons, but my ds was encouraged to take one in SCBU as there is new evidence that having a dummy prevents SIDS. Since then I have no issues with him having one.

abigboydidit Tue 14-May-13 21:55:18

Thanks again. I've always been a bit sniffy about dummies but soupdragon the link you gave at the start and everyone's stories have made me realise how serious the issue is. Bought a dummy today so any time DD has sucked her thumb I've tried just distracting her first but if she's kept trying I've popped the dummy in smile

MiaowTheCat Wed 15-May-13 08:33:39

I'm a compulsive nail biter - my mother has tried EVERY trick in the book to get me to stop it - a deeply ingrained habit, plus a very determined child can often overcome bribery/being firm or whatever else.

I've gone the dummy route with our kids - I'd rather have the sucking habit controlled and removable at an appropriate point in time - you can bung a dummy in the steriliser, you can restrict when they have a dummy, you can take one away - short of amputation - you can't do that with a thumb. DD1's dummy is attached to a sleepytot toy and gradually the actual toy is taking over the comfort role from the dummy - when we finally remove the dummy (no point doing it at the moment since she'd just mug her little sister for hers!) she'll still have the bunny toy as a comforter anyway (and yes, we have about three of them, all nicely pre-snuggled by her while she was a bit too young to notice the difference - ready as understudy bunnies). She only has it for sleeps now anyway.

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