Is a dropped pacifier a magnet for harmful bacteria? - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports


Is a dropped pacifier a magnet for harmful bacteria?

How many times have you popped a pacifier back into the mouth of a crying infant after their 'binkie' accidentally fell onto the floor or ground?

Most parents simply rinse a pacifier off in their kitchen sink, but new research presented at the 2012 American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Annual Meeting in Boston shows binkies can be covered in bacteria.

Researchers collected 10 used pacifiers from babies at a pediatric clinic.

"Five of the used pacifiers were lightly contaminated, and five were heavily contaminated with levels reaching as high as 100 million colony forming units (CFUs) per gram," according to a statement published by the ASCP.

About 40 species of bacteria were cultured from the pacifiers. 

"One of the most contaminated pacifiers contained four different strains of staph," the ASCP statement said.  

The study suggests pores in the plastic can not only capture germs, food and water, but they can also create a perfect spot for bacterial, fungal growth and infection.

Dr. R. Scott Spies is a pediatrician at Novant Health Matthews Children's Clinic and he agrees that binkies can be unsanitary for babies. 

"There's no question that there's multiple bacteria on pacifiers," Spies says.

However, he isn't terribly concerned about pacifiers carrying harmful germs.

"Our immune systems are incredibly powerful and can handle these things generally," says Spies. "I've not in 15 years seen anybody get an illness from a pacifier."

For now, no studies have proven that a dirty pacifier can lead to actual illness.

If a pacifier is dropped onto the floor or ground, there is a correct way to disinfect it.

"It is a good idea to clean it with soapy water or boil it," Spies recommends.

The ASCP also suggests soaking a dirty pacifier in a baking soda solution including one teaspoon of baking soda to eight ounces of water.

Its also a good idea to keep several clean pacifiers with you stored in a sealed baggie.

If a pacifier falls onto the ground and you don't have an extra one, wipe off the dirty one with a tissue because that should remove some of the biofilm build up and germs.

Be sure to wash your child's pacifier daily, and discard them every two weeks or sooner if it is damaged.

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