Link Found Between Pacifiers and Recurrent Ear Infections

June 20, 2008 12:39 PM
by Liz Colville
A study of 500 Dutch children found that those using pacifiers nearly doubled their risk of getting ear infections.

30-Second Summary

The study indicates that using a pacifier “may allow bacteria to more easily migrate from secretions in the nose to the middle ear.” The results are relevant to children who already have a history of ear infections, suggesting that they should not be using pacifiers.

The researchers at University Medical Center in Utrecht found that there was a 90 percent chance of recurrence of ear infections in children who used pacifiers.

Bacterial or viral infections of the middle ear, called acute otitis media (AOM), are “one of the most common childhood infections, the leading cause of doctors’ visits by children and the most frequent reason for children to receive antibiotics or undergo surgery,” according to the study authors.

Most AOM infections disappear on their own, though they are sometimes treated with an antibiotic like amoxicillin, according to the Merck Manual.

The results, which are “consistent with previous studies” on pacifier use and ear infections, are published in the journal Family Practice and are available for free online.

The information will likely add to the ongoing debate about the pros and cons of pacifier use. Several studies have reported a decreased chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome with pacifier use, though the American Academy of Pediatrics has yet to endorse the device for such a purpose.

Headline Link: Connection found between pacifier use and ear infections

Opinions & Analysis: The pacifier debate

Related Topic: Pacifiers and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Reference Links: The pacifier/AOM link and definition of acute otitis media

‘Is pacifier use a risk factor for acute otitis media?’
Definition of acute otitis media

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