Drop it? Lick it!

Lick, Don’t Wash, Your Baby’s Dropped Pacifier

News you can use, from an NPR zttkyrihee
interview
with Jack Gilbert, author of Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System

After the birth of his second child, Gilbert, a scientist who studies microbial ecosystems at the University of Chicago, decided to find out what’s actually known about the risks involved when modern-day children come in contact with germs.

“It turned out that most of the exposures were actually beneficial,” Gilbert says. “So that dirty pacifier that fell on the floor — if you just stick it in your mouth and lick it, and then pop it back in little Tommy’s mouth, it’s actually going to stimulate their immune system. Their immune system’s going to become stronger because of it.”

And what of the “5 second rule” for not eating dropped food after it has been on the floor longer than that?

The five-second rule doesn’t exist. It takes milliseconds for microbes to attach themselves to a sticky piece of jammy toast, for example. But it makes no difference. Unless you dropped it in an area where you think they could be a high risk of extremely dangerous pathogens, which in every modern American home is virtually impossible, then there’s no risk to your child.

This explains why my kids are still alive!

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Drop it? Lick it!

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http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/16/537075018/dirt-is-good-why-kids-need-exposure-to-germs?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170716

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27 Responses to Lick, Don’t Wash, Your Baby’s Dropped Pacifier

  1. Dienne July 18, 2017 at 11:24 am #

    The difference birth order makes: for your first child, if the pacifier falls on the floor, you don’t give it back to the baby until you’ve had a chance to boil it for at least 10 minutes; for the second child, you run it under cold water for a few seconds; for the third child, you take it out of the dog’s mouth and put it back in the baby’s mouth.

  2. lightbright July 18, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    Wonderful news! One less thing for moms to stress about.

    Now if we could just get over the mommy war on pacifiers.

    “Don’t give your baby a pacifier! She’ll never breastfeed and then depend on that thing for the rest of her life!!”

    “NO, NO, NO! You’re *supposed* to give your baby a pacifier! Otherwise she’ll die of SIDS! You don’t want a dead baby, do you?”

  3. AmyP July 18, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

    I never worried too much about pacifier germs. My youngest uses her finger and that’s probably dirtier than a pacifier that’s been on the floor a few seconds.

  4. Suze July 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

    I wouldn’t know because my son sucked his index finger and refused a pacifier.

    Also, does this guy know that many parents have been putting the pacifier in their mouths and licking it clean when it fell on the floor? I’ve watched many a parent do this. Nothing new here …nothing to see. Move along.

  5. Bmj2k July 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

    I get the point and I agree, but maybe I won’t be licking the dirty pacifier. A wipe with a napkin will do.

  6. Workshop July 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

    It’s not a shock to people who actually understand how the immune system works, nor how microbes work.

  7. Walter Underwood July 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    My son did a science project on the Five Second Rule. He dropped things on the floor inside and the patio outside, left them for various periods of time, and cultured the results.

    There was no difference caused by the amount of time.

  8. Blanca July 18, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    Dental folks collectively caught their breath when they heard about the study, just published in the journal Pediatrics.

    The findings: Children whose parents “cleaned” dropped pacifers by sucking on them were less likely to have asthma or eczema at 18 months than children whose parents did not use this particular method.

    In a May 6 story for National Public Radio, reporter Rob Stein explained the findings. He started out by talking with a typical mom who described washing her child’s pacifier when he dropped it, even cleaning it in boiling water if it fell “somewhere particularly gross.”

    But, then Stein went on to say “there’s a theory that says: That may not be the best way to go. That sterilizing that pacifier may actually have a big downside. To try to find out, Bill Hesselmar, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and his colleagues, studied 184 babies who used pacifiers and their parents.

  9. Blanca July 18, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    Dentists warn of risk in cleaning pacifiers with saliva
    BY MARY OTTO | MAY 7, 2013
    Mary Otto
    Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health and the author of “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.” She can be reached at [email protected].
    View all posts by Mary Otto →
    Pacifier
    PHOTO BY THE ADVENTURES OF KRISTIN & ADAM VIA FLICKR

    Dental folks collectively caught their breath when they heard about the study, just published in the journal Pediatrics.

    The findings: Children whose parents “cleaned” dropped pacifers by sucking on them were less likely to have asthma or eczema at 18 months than children whose parents did not use this particular method.

    In a May 6 story for National Public Radio, reporter Rob Stein explained the findings. He started out by talking with a typical mom who described washing her child’s pacifier when he dropped it, even cleaning it in boiling water if it fell “somewhere particularly gross.”

    But, then Stein went on to say “there’s a theory that says: That may not be the best way to go. That sterilizing that pacifier may actually have a big downside. To try to find out, Bill Hesselmar, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and his colleagues, studied 184 babies who used pacifiers and their parents.

    From the interview:

    BILL HESSELMAR: We asked them how they cleaned the pacifier, if they rinsed them in water, and of course most of them did.

    STEIN: But a lot of the parents did something else.

    HESSELMAR: They put it in their mouth, sucked on it, and then gave it back to the children. It’s a quite common way to clean pacifiers.

    STEIN: The researchers then kept checking back to see if there were any differences between the kids whose parents licked their pacifiers clean, and those who didn’t. And in this week’s issue of the journal Pediatrics, they report a striking difference.

    HESSELMAR: Those parents who sucked on their child’s pacifier and then gave it back to the infant, these infants had less eczema.

    STEIN: A lot less eczema. And they were also less likely to develop another condition caused by allergic reactions: Asthma. Hesselmar says scientists think they may know why. It’s because parents expose their kids to bacteria, harmless bacteria, we all carry around in our mouths….
    But wait, cried dental people. The disease known as dental caries, which causes tooth decay, is caused by a transmissible microbial infection. The bacteria in parents’ mouths are not all harmless after all.

    “Drop Those Pacifiers!” read the press release that quickly followed from the American Dental Association: “ADA Says Saliva Harbors Cavity-Causing Bacteria that Can Be Transmitted to Babies.”

    “Parents should be aware that bacteria that cause dental decay can be transmitted from adult to child by sharing eating utensils, or by the parent sucking on a baby’s pacifier to clean it,” the ADA warned, contending the Pediatrics study touting the immunological benefits of adult saliva “does not provide the full picture that adult saliva may also contain bacteria that causes decay.”

    “Licking a pacifier, as promoted in the study, can transfer the cavity-causing bacteria from the parent to baby, increasing the possibility of tooth decay as they grow.

    “A child’s teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they begin to erupt,” said Jonathan Shenkin, D.D.S., M.P.H., a pediatric dentist in Maine and a pediatric dental spokesperson for the ADA.

    “Cavity-causing bacteria, especially Streptococcus mutans, can be transferred from adult saliva to children, increasing their risk of getting cavities.”

    Shenkin went on to offer measures that parents can take to help children develop a healthy immune system.

    “Breast milk is widely acknowledged as a good immunity-builder as well as the most complete form of nutrition for infants. This is something on which both the ADA and the AAP agree,” he said.

  10. Blanca July 18, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

    I just read a wonderful book, How to Kiss your Dentist Goodbye and the author, who happens to be a dentists, also warns about transfering saliva from adults to children. She has a lot of great information. I highly recommend.

    Licking a pacifier, as promoted in the study, can transfer the cavity-causing bacteria from the parent to baby, increasing the possibility of tooth decay as they grow.

  11. Eric S July 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    Well, I’m glad someone in the science field has confirmed what parents have indirectly known for generations before this one. Thank all the companies and their partners that would benefit, for some of the hysteria and paranoia. The rest is credited to technology, social media, and ignorant and easily manipulated minds that share with like minded people.

    Let’s all start being smart about what we share. That’s a big start. Sharing everything and anything that tugs at our heart strings and fears is just not smart.

  12. AmyP July 18, 2017 at 2:41 pm #

    Also, I’m not really seeing the point of any of this. They’re saying it’s okay to lick off and not wash off, which I get, but if it’s okay for me to lick off then why clean it at all? Maybe I’m just gross, but unless it was noticeably dirty or felt into something, I just let the baby put it back in his mouth.

  13. Robin July 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

    If it’s a very young baby, besides transferring the bacteria that promote dental caries, you are chancing giving your baby thrush, especially if you are using artificial baby milk (formula).

  14. Joanna July 18, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    Pacifier? What pacifier? Well meaning friends and relatives gifted my babies with many. “Binkies” that would mysteriously disappear as soon as that friend or relative was out the door because my kids never wanted or needed them. One daughter preferred her right index finger until she was 3 or so. Her younger sister, we eventually learned, was the calmest child ever from the time she could walk because she sucked the butane out of any BIC lighter she could get her hands on. (A 15-month-old going through butane withdrawal was NOT a fun 3 days at our house!) Now in their 40s, neither have (or have ever had) allergies or dental problems.

  15. Miriam Drukker July 18, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    It’s not the end of the world to lick it, or not to lick it, but IMHO it’s probably better not to lick it.

    Boosting the immune system is one thing, but some germs that most adults have in their mouth, have no benefit for babies.

    What licking can cause is:

    1. Herpes (people are ashamed to talk about that). Many parents have HSV (herpes) whether they are aware of it or not (from Wikipedia: Worldwide rates of either HSV-1 or HSV-2 are between 60% and 95% in adults. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herpes_simplex). And although one is particularly contagious during outbreaks – some are contagious when they don’t have any noticeable symptoms, and many adults are not even aware that they carry the virus.

    2. Early (or earlier) tooth decay (other mentioned that). Kids will eventually get the germs causing cavity, but getting them later is better than sooner. Allows the teeth to stay cavity-free longer, and have a healthier mouth hygiene for life. These germs also cause bad breath, that’s why babies don’t have bad breath, although they wake up from sleep all the time (and I don’t know many newborns who have teeth or have their teeth brushed for them). It’s also cheaper, not having to pay for fillings on the baby teeth.

    Both conditions are not the end of the world (although Herpes in newborns can be extremely dangerous), but neither are fun. Most of the population will get both sometime during their life, and then continue to have them for the rest of their lives, but later is better than sooner. So, my personal judgement was that unless the pacifier dropped inside a pile of poop – I assume that wiping it should be fine, or washing it, or doing nothing to it, but probably better not to lick it.

    Not all germs are created equal. And exposure to germs is important, but like everything in life – in moderation. But for sure it’s not a reason to disqualify a parent. There are probably also good germs in the saliva, that kids can benefit from. Personally I preferred that my daughter will get those good germs from my breast milk and from not being overly clean (having a cat in the house, exploring nature, touching grass etc) than by licking a pacifier, but both are probably not the end of the world in most cases.

    Personally it wasn’t my thing. If it was gross enough not to put it back in my daughter’s mouth – I wouldn’t want to put it in my mouth either. And if it wasn’t gross enough for me to put it in my mouth – it’s probably not too gross to put it in her mouth.
    And there’s also the logic that I don’t understand: in case there IS some germ on the pacifier, and the parent ‘cleans’ it – then now the germs is in the parents’ mouth and next time they will lick it – they will pass it on. Hahaha.

    To summarise – it’s my personal style (not to lick). Just like I don’t kiss kids on the mouth, but on the cheeks (or the top of the head), although some people do kiss their kids on their mouth (which is another way to pass those germs to the kids). For me – mouth kissing is reserved for partners, not other family members, but that’s my style, and others can do what they want.

  16. Miriam Drukker July 18, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    What I don’t like about the title of this blog post is that it implies that since now there is a new study showing the benefits of licking, it means that this is the right way.

    Studies are good, but then comes the personal style. And I thought that allowing parents to make their choices is an idea that you wanted to promote here.

    Some houses are cleaner than others, teaching your child to be clean and clean up after themselves is not a bad thing, just like teaching your child that some dirt and some mess is OK. Some dirt I can’t stand (crumbs on the kitchen table), while others kinds of dirt I don’t mind (dust or dirt on the windows). I think it stems from growing up and seeing that crumbs bring ants (and then it’s impossible to get rid of them), while dust just passively stays on the shelves and even if I clean it – it will come back tomorrow.

    But I’m trying not to judge others… Not easy, but trying…

  17. Kimberly Albertson July 18, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

    Is it weird that I find licking my kid’s dropped pacifier gross, yet when my kids were little and they dropped their pacifiers, I just popped it back in their mouths?

  18. Margot July 18, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

    Thanks @Dienne! I needed a laugh. reminds me of one of my mother’s freinds who said that the stopped sterilising her baby’s bottles when she came in one day and found the baby sucking on the dog’s tail! That horse had truly bolted.

  19. lollipoplover July 18, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

    Bleech.
    Picking up a dropped pacifier in our house, with a chex mix of dog hair in play, would not happen.

    My father used to tell the story about a family that stopped by for dinner unannounced and were rather rude to my mother, who tried her best to feed them (she already had 10 mouths to feed!).

    After dinner, my dad offered to clear the table and instead of loading the dirty plates into the dishwasher, he placed them on the floor for the dogs to lick clean then put the plates back in the cabinet, as the guests looked on appalled. He said it saves on water and builds the immune system, when in reality it keeps freeloading guests from ever coming back!

  20. elizabeth July 18, 2017 at 11:23 pm #

    Our family friend’s fifteen month old just pops it right back into her mouth, and she frequently drops her food on purpose before eating it. She is hardly ever sick, if at all.

  21. sexhysteria July 19, 2017 at 1:51 am #

    Warning: a video or still image of an adult licking a pacifier, toy or any other child’s object could be considered a simulation of a sexual act, and hence “child pornography.”

  22. aebhel July 19, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    Heh, this explains why my kid never gets sick (I did usually wash her pacis if they rolled under the couch, but that’s because I have a thriving ecosystem of dustbunnies under there, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stick it in my mouth like that).

    I never got the obsession with sterilizing everything that a child might touch. Unless they have existing allergies or a compromised immune system, what’s the point? I don’t sterilize everything I touch, and I’m still alive.

  23. Kirsten July 19, 2017 at 10:31 am #

    I understand if it’s good for the kid, but what about for the adult licking the floor dirt or ground off the pacifier?

  24. Gina July 19, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    LOVE.
    My kids have eaten off the floor their whole lives (we did eat a table too!)….They overturned bowls of Cheerios so many times that I started serving them without the bowl…LOL

  25. ggg July 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    Understand the point, but I do not want to put the kid’s pacifier in my mouth.

    90% of the time the kid will drop it and pick it up again and put it back before the parent can do anything. If it’s actually dirty, it is not that hard to run it under the tap for two seconds.

  26. Papilio July 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

    Well, I grew up with a cat (whose food I’d eat) and my father (one big immune system boost, that man), so… No idea if my parents ever licked my pacifiers. It did take years and years before I ever had my first cavity, so maybe not.

    “This explains why my kids are still alive!” The two we know exist, you mean 😛

  27. TheGreenMiles July 31, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    Sadly telling that even many commenters on this site will act more on a small amount of risk (tooth decay) than a large amount of reward (protection from major illness like asthma).