Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses in babies and young children. Did you know that with a simple daily gesture you could prevent them? And, you might be surprised, but a recent study speaks of the fact that pacifier use can cause otitis in babies. We analyze this report and give you recommendations to make a controlled use of it.
The pacifier or also called pacifier, bobo, pacifier is a plastic utensil that resembles the mother's nipple and is one of the first items that parents buy when they prepare the basket for the baby that is about to arrive.
Babies normally have a need or instinct to suck, even if it is not to feed and this is called non-nutritive sucking (NNS), which manifests itself since the fetus is in the womb, verified many times when a pregnancy control ultrasound is performed and it is appreciated that the fetus is sucking or sucking on a finger.
This has led many to justify the use of the pacifier, which has been used since 1,000 BC. and its use has been maintained fairly frequent, with an increase in recent years, where it is also observed that thumb suction has declined.
Studies reveal that pacifier use is more frequent between the second and third month of the baby's life, offering it from the first month of life. Apparently it is used more in males than in females, because the crying in males is more intense.
Its use has been proven to have advantages, one of which is very important is the reduction in the incidence of cases of sudden death syndrome in infants; A decrease in the length of hospitalized premature infants has also been confirmed and for most parents it is of great help because it manages to calm and reassure their child, apart from inducing sleep.
But just as its use has advantages, it also has disadvantages and among them one that draws attention is that prolonged use of the pacifier increases the risk of suffering from acute otitis media; Although the mechanism by which it occurs is unknown, the incidence is high.
Regarding this relationship between pacifier use and acute otitis media, a study endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was conducted a few years ago in Finland with infants under 18 months of age. It was concluded that among infants who stopped using the pacifier or decreased its use, the incidence of cases of acute otitis media decreased by 33% and, in addition, they specified that by reducing the use of the pacifier by 21%, the incidence of otitis mean acute decreased by 29%.
Acute otitis media is an inflammatory and infectious process of the middle ear canal, which goes from the tympanic membrane to the pharynx, passing through the Eustachian tube.
In older children it manifests with fever, earache, headache, dizziness and loss of appetite; In infants we can see that they are usually very irritable and with persistent crying. In them a characteristic sign is frequent touching or passing their hand over the affected ear or they tend to sleep with their head turned towards the affected ear. In some cases, a serous or seropurulent exudate is seen coming out of the ear, which decompresses the tympanic membrane and reduces pain.
The incidence of acute otitis media can also decrease by 50% when babies are breastfed for at least the first 4 months of life and the other factor that protects children from acute otitis media is the position on their back when sleeping.
In my pediatric consultation, when newborns arrive to me already using a pacifier, I give parents recommendations for the best use of it and thus avoid complications and above all the appearance of this ear disease:
- Offer the pacifier after the first month of life or at least after breastfeeding is established, in order not to generate pacifier-nipple confusion syndrome.
- If the baby sleeps with the pacifier, do not put it back in his mouth if he takes it off spontaneously.
- Do not offer a pacifier during the day.
- Do not force the child to accept the pacifier if he does not want it.
- Do not put it in the mouth mixed with sugary drinks or other edible substances.
- Keep it clean and with a protective cover to avoid contamination.
- Remove the pacifier before 12 months of life, to avoid acute otitis media, teething problems, tonsillitis or other infectious processes.
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