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 |  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.


“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

Germophobia 101: there are microbes on pacifiers; therefore pacifiers cause atherosclerosis & diabetes

Oh my God.  I hope upon hope that the quote in this story was unintended.  The story is from US News and World Report: Dirty Pacifiers May Make Infants Sick: Study – US News and World Report

It is excruciatingly painful to read.  First, the headline is misleading and way out of line.  US News should be reprimanded for this.  There is no evidence presented that pacifiers are making anyone sick.

What is the story about?  At a conference someone(s) presented results of taking used and new pacifiers and chopping them up and seeing what grew on different parts.  And they found – get ready – microbes on them.  And more microbes on the used ones than the new ones.  And they even found some microbes that were apparently resistant to antibiotics.

Scared yet?  You shouldn’t be because of course  Fortunately the story does quote on sane person

Dr. Ben Hoffman, medical director of the Children’s Safety Center at Oregon Health and Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, said he can’t think of an infection a child has had that he would attribute to a pacifier. 

“The majority of things you’re going to find on a pacifier are things we’ll find on our clothes, normal human flora,” said Hoffman. “It’s not a reason to demonize pacifiers if people find them useful.”

But alas it also quotes the lead author of the study.

Glass doesn’t recommend that parents use pacifiers to calm their babies and toddlers. “After doing the study, I say why take a risk? The key is to recognize that pacifiers can cause illness,” he said. “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.”

What? The? Fu$*#? Pacifiers have microbes on them.  Therefore they cause atherosclerosis and diabetes?   Completely, unbelievably insane and irresponsible.  And I think US News should have made it clearer that this is just completely out of line.