Studies from Finland show that children who use pacifiers are more likely to suffer recurrent ear infections and restricting pacifier use can help reduce this risk.

Sucking on pacifiers pulls open the Eustachian tube that runs from the mouth to the middle ear to allow bacteria that are normally in the mouth to climb up the Eustachian tube into the middle ear to cause an infection. In spite of recommendations to limit pacifier use, 68 percent of the parents continued to use pacifiers. So Marjo Niemelia, the author of these papers, recommends that children do not have to avoid pacifiers completely, they should using them just before falling asleep or when the child needs special soothing. If your child pulls on one or both ears, cries when he sucks on a bottle, or has a fever, running nose or a cough, check with your doctor. If he has an ear infection, try to limit use of his pacifier.

1) Pediatrics 2000;106:483-488.

2) Pediatrics 1995;96:(5, pt1):884-888.

3) Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol 1994;29:121-127.

Checked 8/9/05

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