This is the second of three blogs relating to dummies or pacifiers.
When I was working through the studies on pacifiers a number of questions came up for me and I required the specifics of how dummies might actually create an increase in the rate of ear infections. So below is my interpretation of the data and studies etc and how they speculate immunity may be compromised increasing the likelihood of infections.
1.Dummies effect breastfeeding.
Babies who use dummies may not successfully breastfeed when compared with babies who have not used dummies as dummies may perpetuate any difficulty a newborn has with breastfeeding. This may occur as a result of prolonged sucking on a dummy tightening a musculature imbalance within the jaw or exacerbate soft palate issues. Therefore dummies often lead to a decreased duration of breastfeeding.
Dummies have been associated with a decreased duration of breast-feeding which in turn may reduce maternal antibody protection against Acute Otitis Media (AOM).
2.Dummies increase the frequency of Ear Infections.
There are a number of mechanisms discussed here,
– The reduction in breast-feeding may lead to increased intake of cow’s milk, which often creates inflammatory responses in the body promoting AOM.
– Dummies result in an increase of saliva and germ spread. This can become problematic when the child is immune challenged. Dummies are also often used to comfort chronically ill infants, including those with recurrent bouts of AOM which perpetuates the problem.
– Dummies lift the soft palate in the mouth, block the nasopharynx and impairs eustachian tube function providing an ideal medium for bacteria and viruses from the nasopharynx to be swept into the middle ear. Dummies may in fact promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the nasopharynx.
– One study suggested that pacifier use creates recurrent, not primary (or first) episodes of Acute Otitis Media AOM or ear infection. Whereby the primary episode of AOM damages mucosa of middle ear predisposing to further infection and pacifier induces reflux of nasopharageal secretions in middle ear increasing susceptibility.
– Dummies allow fluid into the middle ear assisted by pressure changes during sucking.
3. Dummies create Dental Problems
My understanding of the literature as it relates to dental issues as they arise from dummies is that those with a history of pacifier/dummy use had a significantly larger occurence of malpositioning of teeth, openbite and posterior crossbite.