September 5, 2000 MSNBC reports that, "Babies that use pacifiers continually after six months of age are at greater risk of ear infections, according to researchers." These discoveries come from the results of a survey completed on more than 400 Finnish children at the University of Oulu. The researchers calculate that between 75 percent and 85 percent of babies in Western countries habitually use pacifiers.
One possible explanation given by the researchers for the link between pacifiers and ear infections was that the sucking on a pacifier may upset the air pressure in the ear consequently blocking proper drainage. "It is reasonable to assume that the effect may lie in an alteration in the pressure equilibrium between the middle ear cavity and the nasopharynx, which apparently impairs the functioning of the Eustachian tube,"
The Eustachian tube is the passage which connects the back of the nose along with the middle ear. It aids hearing and acts as a drain for the middle ear by opening when needed to regulate air pressure. If the Eustachian tube gets blocked it could prevent proper drainage and result in infections. The only recommendations given to the parents in the article from the researchers were to limit pacifier use to the moments when older babies are falling asleep.