Mom horrified after pacifier clip ‘burns’ toddler: Carl Monday investigates

BEDFORD, OH (WOIO) – Ashley Bilek of Bedford said her daughter, Madelynn, has been attached to her pacifier “since day one” and unfortunately the pacifier clip got accidentally attached to her and caused some harm to the 2-year-old.

Coincidentally, pacifiers have also been attached to the toddler thanks to pacifier clips, which ensures the pacifiers stay clean and within arms reach.

But now, the mother of two is warning other parents of the potential dangers of pacifier clips after her 2-year-old daughter received a second-degree burn-like injury during a nap.

“When I picked her up she screamed and she grabbed her side,” said Bilek. ”I lifted up her shirt and saw that she had this perfect circular wound on her. I didn’t know what it was.”

So Bilek and her husband Joe packed their kids into the car and drove to the emergency room at Hillcrest Hospital.

“It was really traumatic for her. She’s screaming the whole time. I mean, it was horrible,” she said.

Was it a rash or an allergic reaction that Madelynn had suffered? Neither, according to an ER doctor at Hillcrest Hospital.

“The doctor looked at it and said, ‘That’s a burn,’ said Bilek. ”I was like, ‘I didn’t burn her!’ I showed her the clip and she said, ‘Yeah, that’s identical. It must have gotten too hot.’”

The toddler had fallen asleep on her pink JJ Cole pacifier clip and the doctors say the heat from her body caused the decorative rubber ring to adhere to the child’s skin.

When Madelynn pulled the clip off of her body, a layer of skin came off it with, causing the painful and unsightly wound that doctors have equated to a second-degree burn.

“The day we took her home from the emergency room, she just climbed into bed and didn’t move,” said Bilek”

The Bileks spent the next week in and out of hospitals and doctors offices throughout Northeast Ohio.

Ashley Bilek said the medicated bandage used to treat Madelynn’s “burn” dried to the toddler’s already irritated skin, causing the wound to spread.

“Anything that stuck to her just pulled off more skin. When she went to the doctor’s office they had to rip all of her skin off and that caused even more irritation, so it kept spreading outward,” she said.

A pediatric dermatologist with the Cleveland Clinic eventually referred the young patient to MetroHealth Medical Center’s Comprehensive Burn Care Center.

“When someone is laying down on something like this and it causes pressure, it can decrease blood flow to the skin. That area of the skin kind of dies off and essentially mimics a burn injury,” said Dr. Anjay Khandelwal, the co-director of the Comprehensive Burn Center. “If she was laying on this clip for a prolonged period of time, sometimes we see damage that mimics third degree burns, and there’s a lot of times where something like that can even cause damage to the underlying muscle.”

While Khandelwal didn’t personally treat Madelynn, he said “burn” injuries like the toddler’s aren’t uncommon.

“We’ve seen it with other patients where other different objects, if they’re laying on it funny or it’s pressed against a patient in a different way, or in a particular way, it can actually cause damage to either the skin, the underlying tissue, or even sometimes the muscle,” said Kandelwal. “Fortunately, in her case, it’s limited only to the skin, and it’s equivalent to a second-degree burn with fortunately heals and will do so without and scarring or long term changes. Hopefully, as she grows older, this will completely disappear.”

We reached out to JJ Cole, the manufacturer of the pacifier clip, who provided us with the following written statement:

We also also followed up with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, who declined our request for an on-camera interview.

While there were no reports on CPSC’s website of the JJ Cole Pacifier Clip ‘burning’ another child, there is one published complaint from the parent of an 11-month-old girl who felt the clip posed an ingestion and choking hazard for infants after rubber and paint on their child’s pacifier clip peeled and scratched off.

“I would never use one again seeing what could happen,” said Bilek. ”It might never happen again. I would never take a chance knowing what it did, and I don’t think anyone else should either.”

Khandelwal says it’s important for parents to be aware of potential dangers when putting infants and young children down to sleep.

“Be sure they’re not laying down on anything, there’s no toys or books they can by laying down on. They should be laying down on a nice clean surface, it’s the best way to avoid any problems,” he said.

“When I went to the store and picked something off the shelf for my baby, I didn’t think, you know, at the store you think it’s safe,” Bilek said. ”I wasn’t thinking, ‘What can this do to my kid?’ I assumed that it was safe like we all hope when we by something. I just think people should be aware of what happened.  And what could happen.”

If your child has been injured, or you have concerns that a product may be unsafe, you can file a report with the Consumer Product Safety Commission electronically at, or call CPSC’s toll free hotline at 1-800-638-2772.

As the Dean of Cleveland Investigative Reporters, Carl Monday has set the standard for investigative journalism in Northeast Ohio. In a career that has spanned over 45 years, Monday has been a trailblazer in the field, from the voice on all-news radio, to heading up investigative units at three Cleveland television stations.

Post time: Apr-28-2019
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