Pacifiers: a microbial reservoir

Nurs Health Sci. 2006 Dec;8(4):216-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2018.2006.00282.x.


The permanent contact between the nipple part of pacifiers and the oral microflora offers ideal conditions for the development of biofilms. This study assessed the microbial contamination on the surface of 25 used pacifier nipples provided by day-care centers. Nine were made of silicone and 16 were made of latex. The biofilm was quantified using direct staining and microscopic observations followed by scraping and microorganism counting. The presence of a biofilm was confirmed on 80% of the pacifier nipples studied. This biofilm was mature for 36% of them. Latex pacifier nipples were more contaminated than silicone ones. The two main genera isolated were Staphylococcus and Candida. Our results confirm that nipples can be seen as potential reservoirs of infections. However, pacifiers do have some advantages; in particular, the potential protection they afford against sudden infant death syndrome. Strict rules of hygiene and an efficient antibiofilm cleaning protocol should be established to answer the worries of parents concerning the safety of pacifiers.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Candida / growth & development
  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Disinfection
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • France
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Infant
  • Latex
  • Linear Models
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Pacifiers / microbiology*
  • Silicones
  • Staphylococcus / growth & development
  • Surface Properties


  • Latex
  • Silicones