December 27, 2012
(Tulsa World) -- Used pacifiers can contain a variety of bacteria that can cause illnesses such as colic and infections of the mouth or inner ear, according to research conducted recently at Oklahoma State University.
Researchers studied new pacifiers and 10 used pacifiers from a well-baby clinic to determine what organisms could be found on them. They found a wide variety of bacteria, including some associated with diseases.
The study was small, but its results are important, said Dr. Tom Glass, professor of forensic sciences, pathology and dental medicine at OSU.
"It's the kind of thing that, even though it's small, it's so important this information goes out," he said.
The researchers plan to conduct a larger study soon, he said.
Glass suggests that people throw out pacifiers after two weeks and buy new ones. At first, running a pacifier through a dishwasher is sufficient, but eventually this becomes ineffective. The heat required to destroy the bacteria would melt the pacifier, he said.
Keep a batch of three to five pacifiers handy but replace them twice a month, he said.
"For a minute amount of money, you can really reduce the chances of transmitting these diseases," he said.
He also recommends replacing pacifiers when a baby gets sick, when the baby starts to feel better and then again when he or she is well.
Pacifiers should not be shared, he said.
Babies can get antimicrobial agents from breast milk but do not start developing their own immunities until they are 3 or 4 months, he said.
OSU researchers have done similar work studying toothbrushes, sports mouth guards and band instruments, but the research on pacifiers is unique, he said.
The results are not surprising, he said.
"The only thing we have done with our research is put science to common sense," he said.
Throw out pacifiers after two weeks and buy new ones.
Keep a batch of three to five pacifiers handy but replace them twice a month.
Replace pacifiers when a baby gets sick, when the baby starts to feel better and then again when he or she is well.
Pacifiers should not be shared.
(C) 2012 Tulsa World. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved