The evil germy pacifier story is getting out of hand – w/ Dr. Glass misleading the charge

From Wikipedia

Oh for crying out loud.  This is getting out of control.  Two weeks ago I wrote about an over the top story in US News and World Report about pacifiers and microbes: The Tree of Life: Germophobia 101: there are microbes on pacifiers ….  The culprit in this story was a Dr. – Dr. Tom Glass – who was the lead presenter of some study at a meeting.  His study involved counting the number of colony forming units on used vs. new pacifiers.  And low and behold used ones were covered in germs.  Amazingly, this led Glass to say ridiculous things like

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.

Completely misleading and deceptive and dangerous I would say.  And alas, the story has been crawling it’s way around the web picking up speed.  Now it is at Time.Com with another story about Glass’ work: Bacteria on Binkies: A Recipe for Crankiness | TIME.com.  Glass apparently is now blaming biofilms of pacifiers for all the problems.  And again Dr. Glass is (mis)leading the charge against pacifiers.

A lot of times when a child is cranky, the first thing a parent does is reach for a pacifier,” says Dr. R. Tom Glass, the study’s principal investigator and a professor of forensic sciences, pathology and dental medicine at Oklahoma State University. “But what are you using to treat the crankiness? It’s a vicious cycle.

and

“biofilms can potentially increase the likelihood of colic or ear infections and could possibly heighten the risk of allergies or asthma, says Glass.”

The reporter does present some skepticism from parents and from the literature.  But come one – why even report this crap from Glass.  I mean – I am all for keeping babies from getting sick and pacifiers very well may be a source of some nasties.  But let’s think about the big picture here.  Parents buy pacifier.  Parents open package.  Parents give to baby.  Baby puts in mouth.  Baby drops pacifier and it gets dirt on it as well as some germs.  Baby puts back in mouth.  Pacifier gets left on counter.  Things from babies mouth grow on pacifier.  Baby puts pacifier back in mouth.  And so on.  Tell me again where the pacifier introduces bad germs to this system?

UPDATE: some reading material

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

3 thoughts on “The evil germy pacifier story is getting out of hand – w/ Dr. Glass misleading the charge”

  1. Thanks for commenting on the BabyCenter Blog. It's not everyday we hear from experts and Ted talkers. Since motherhood often breeds germaphobia, it's good to get some perspective.

    Like

  2. Of course the natural progression of this germophobia would be to start marketing rolls of disposable, single-use, individually wrapped pacifiers. Probably with a slow color changing dye to encourage parents to change them at least once a day…

    Like

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