Dirty pacifiers may make infants sick, study says
But some experts say concerns about germs are overstated and parents should not be worried.
(HealthDay)—Pacifiers are universally popular with new parents and their infants, but there's one big problem with them: They can get dirty. Very dirty.
Researchers report that they found a wide range of disease-causing bacteria, fungus and mold on pacifiers that young children had been using.
They added that pacifiers can often grow a slimy coating of bacteria—called a biofilm—that actually alters the normal bacteria in a baby or toddler's mouth. That biofilm can spur inflammation and potentially increase the risk of developing gastrointestinal problems such as colic or even ear infections.
In fact, the same types of bacteria found on a common pacifier have been linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases, said study author Dr. Tom Glass, a professor of forensic sciences, pathology and dental medicine at Oklahoma State University.
Glass said the problem with pacifiers applies also to removable orthodontic appliances such as retainers and even athletic mouth guards and dentures. Pores in the plastic can capture fungi, bacteria, food and water, creating a perfect spot for bacterial and fungal growth and infection, he explained.
The research was scheduled to be presented Friday at the American Society for Clinical Pathology annual meeting in Boston. The data and conclusions of the study should be considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The study authors collected 10 pacifiers from healthy infants at a pediatric clinic. They chopped up the nipples and shields finely, and put them in laboratory dishes designed to allow any bacteria or fungi that was present on the pacifiers to grow.
After 24 and 48 hours, the investigators compared the growth around the used pacifiers to the growth in dishes in which chopped-up new, unused pacifiers had been placed.
While half of the 10 used pacifiers were lightly contaminated, the other 5 were heavily contaminated (with levels reaching as high as 100 million colony-forming units per gram).
The researchers cultured 40 different species of bacteria from the 10 used pacifiers. One pacifier was contaminated with four different strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Yet, the unused pacifiers were found to be sanitary (with colony growths in the dishes less than 100 colony-forming units per gram).
What was particularly concerning, said Glass, was that many of the bacteria growing from the used pacifiers were resistant to commonly used antibiotics such as penicillin and methicillin.
The development of such resistance to certain antibiotics does not cause the organism to be more infectious than other strains that have no antibiotic resistance, but it can make the infection more difficult to treat.
Glass doesn't recommend that parents use pacifiers to calm their babies and toddlers. "After doing the study, I say why take a risk? The key is to recognize that pacifiers can cause illness," he said. "In the long run, it may be that what you do now [using a pacifier] may have a lot to do with whether a child ends up developing atherosclerosis or type 2 diabetes."
For those who still choose to use pacifiers, Glass recommends soaking them daily in a denture-cleaning agent and carrying extras so a dropped or soiled pacifier doesn't have to be replaced without first cleaning it thoroughly at home.
He also recommends throwing out pacifiers after two weeks of use because wear increases the bacteria-trapping porousness of the plastic.
Some experts are not concerned about pacifiers carrying disease-causing germs.
Dr. Ben Hoffman, medical director of the Children's Safety Center at Oregon Health and Science University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital, said he can't think of an infection a child has had that he would attribute to a pacifier.
"The majority of things you're going to find on a pacifier are things we'll find on our clothes, normal human flora," said Hoffman. "It's not a reason to demonize pacifiers if people find them useful."
More information: Find out more about the risks and benefits of pacifiers from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
- Researchers question pulling plug on pacifiers Apr 30, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Study finds pacifiers don't interfere with established breastfeeding Mar 16, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Study examines injuries with baby bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups in the US May 14, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Pacifiers may have emotional consequences for boys Sep 18, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Plastics chemical linked to obesity in kids Jun 25, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Equating differentials => equating coefficients
1 hour ago Hi all, In thermodynamics one often has equations like A dx + B dy = ∂f/∂x dx + ∂f/∂y dy From which follows A = ∂f/∂x B = ∂f/∂y
The idea behind a reverse shock
7 hours ago So in a supernova explosion for example (5th slide) http://www.astro.princeton.edu/~burrows/classes/541/blastwavesChisari.pdf Ambient medium is...
Guass's Law for a charge distribution
7 hours ago First, this is not a homework question, just something I've been confused about for some time. I understand how to use Guass's law in many ways but...
8 hours ago Hello :) i'm new to this forum, so excuse me for my straightforwardness ;) I'm working on my bachelor work and i can't find a solution. I'm writing...
siphon and bernouli theorum
9 hours ago 1. I found this diagram on book but there weren't any description.can someone tell me, what its trying to tell specially by those two red lines...
Hot gas expansion rate into outer space
9 hours ago Good Morning Sirs, it seems to be surprisingly hard to get the numbers of a mystery: How fast expand hot rocket exhaust gases into empty space? ...
- More from Physics Forums - Classical Physics
More news stories
Existing research shows that bicyclists who wear helmets have an 88 percent lower risk of brain injury, but researchers at Boston Children's Hospital found that simply having bicycle helmet laws in place showed a 20 percent ...
Pediatrics May 23, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Over the last decade, the number of American children who die each year awaiting an organ donation dropped by more than half, new research reveals. And increasing numbers of children are receiving ...
Pediatrics May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Phthalates: Study links chemicals widely found in plastics, processed food to elevated blood pressure in children, teens
Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are odorless, colorless and just about everywhere: They turn up in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, intravenous tubing and—according to the ...
Pediatrics May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 1 |
A study by Alexandra L. C. Martiniuk, M.Sc, Ph.D., of The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia, and colleagues suggests less sleep per night is associated with a significant increase in the risk for motor ...
Pediatrics May 20, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Whole-cell pertussis vaccines were more effective at protecting against pertussis than acellular pertussis vaccines during a large recent outbreak, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study published in Pediatrics.
Pediatrics May 20, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Coenzyme Q10 decreases all cause mortality by half, according to the results of a multicentre randomised double blind trial presented today at Heart Failure 2013 congress. It is the first drug to improve heart failure mortality ...
13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 5
(HealthDay)—Animals make great companions for senior citizens, but elderly people who always drive with a pet in the car are far more likely to crash than those who never drive with a pet, researchers have ...
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS), according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. AS, also referred to as male 'menopause', was four times ...
13 hours ago | not rated yet | 1
Mortality and length of stay are highest in heart failure patients admitted in January, on Friday, and overnight, according to research presented today at the Heart Failure Congress 2013. The analysis of nearly 1 million ...
13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Department of Justice lawyers have again asked a federal appeals court in New York to delay lifting age restrictions and prescription requirements on an emergency contraceptive popularly known as the morning-after ...
12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0