A report on pacifier safety suggets it may be time for federal safety regulators to take a new look at the risks posed by the devices, which have a tendency to rip or become lodged in a child's mouth or throat.
“Pacifiers have a unique combination of being almost ubiquitous yet inherently very risky due to the fact that they go into a child’s mouth,” said Diana Suder, a researcher with Kids In Danger (KID). “That makes it extremely important to assure the product meets strong safety guidelines.”
In a recent report, Suder and her colleagues analyzed data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that found pacifiers can pose a choking and laceration risk to infants and toddlers.
The databases reviewed include both recalls of pacifiers issued by the CPSC as well as reported incidents and injuries through SaferProducts.gov and hospital data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
Key findings included:
- Seventy-nine percent of injuries reported to the CPSC involved babies choking on pacifier pieces and/or the pacifier impeding airflow to the child by getting stuck in the child's mouth or throat.
- Recalled pacifiers have been known to break and leave sharp pieces inside children’s mouths. The broken pacifier pieces also inflict lacerations inside and around the mouth due to sharp, exposed edges.
- In the time studied, there were 97 incident and injury reports and 11 recalls.
Time to reevaluate
The CPSC has a standard for pacifier safety, but it has not been revised in years. KID's report suggests it may be time to reevaluate. The choking risk makes it especially important to ensure maximum safety in pacifiers, KID said, since a choking child can die within minutes.
KID recommends that:
- Parents and caregivers make sure that the pacifier they buy for their child is not a recalled model. Check for recalls on saferproducts.gov or kidsind
- If a pacifier has any rips, cracks, or signs of significant wear, it must be replaced immediately.
- If you experience an incident with a pacifier, report it at SaferProducts.gov to help spread awareness.
“In addition to steps parents and caregivers can take, KID recommends CPSC take action to improve the safety of pacifiers,” said Nancy Cowles, KID Executive Director. “These incidents and recalls should lead to a reexamination of the current standard for pacifiers and perhaps point to the need for stronger surveillance to assure only those that meet the standard are reaching the marketplace.”