Study: Pacifiers contain disease-causing bacteria, fungus, mold

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Researchers recently found that most pacifiers contain bacteria that could lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. (Photo: CNN)

Researchers recently found that most pacifiers contain bacteria that could lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. (Photo: CNN)

DENVER — It turns out there may be more invisible substances on your child’s pacifier aside from slobber.

No matter how well you think you’re cleaning the popular child-soothing instrument, it may be riddled with disease-causing bacteria, fungus and mold, according to a new study.

A research team led by Dr. Tom Glass presented the study at the American Society for Clinical Pathology on Nov. 2. Glass is a professor of forensic sciences, pathology and dental medicine at Oklahoma State University.

He said that some of the common bacteria his team found living on pacifiers after using a mold test kit are the same types that have been linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases.

The most common form of bacteria that Glass’ team found is called biofilm, and it can alter the normal bacteria in a toddler’s mouth, causing an increased risk for the development of gastrointestinal problems and ear infections.

In order to obtain their data, researchers collected 10 pacifiers from healthy infants and let them stand alone for a period of 48 hours. After that time had passed, researchers  found that five of the pacifiers were lightly contaminated while the other five were heavily contaminated.

Glass said his team found 40 different species of bacteria on the 10 pacifiers, and that many of those bacteria were resistant to most cleaning products and antibiotics such as penicillin and methicillin.

All in all, Glass said the results of this study led him to believe parents should stop using pacifiers as a method to sooth their children.

“I say, ‘Why take a risk?'” Glass told US News. “In the long run, (using a pacifier) may have a lot to do with whether a child ends up developing atherosclerosis or type 2 diabetes.”