TULSA, Oklahoma (NBC News Channel) -- While pacifiers can offer solace to a crying infant, new research suggests they can also provide babies with bacteria!
It's very common for parents to pop a pacifier back into the mouth of a crying infant after it's dropped onto the ground. But new research shows those 'binkies' can be covered in bacteria.
"The pacifier is a potential reservoir for germs that will make you sick," explained Dr. R. Thomas Glass of Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences.
Dr. Glass and colleagues at Oklahoma State University did a small study of 10 used infant pacifiers. They looked clean, but under a microscope, they found microbial contamination -- mold and staph bacteria.
"It may look solid in your hand," Dr. Glass, said. But when we look at it under the scanning electron microscope, it looks like a sponge."
No studies have proven that a dirty pacifier can lead to actual illness. But most experts agree, parents should replace them at least monthly, even if they're cleaned and sterilized after every use.
"It's cheap medicine to discard your pacifiers every two weeks," added Dr. Glass.