Sucking on your baby’s pacifier may protect them from allergies

Baby pacifier

Baby pacifier

New research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting highlights the association between parental sucking on a pacifier and a lower allergic response among young children. According to a new study, it just might.

Of the 128 mothers participating in the research, 58 per cent reported that their child now used a pacifier.

The Henry Ford study involved 128 mothers who were asked about how they cleaned their baby's pacifier: Sterilizing it in boiling water or dishwasher, cleaning it with soap and water and sucking on it.

But it was this second group of children who had lower IgE levels.

It may seem counterintuitive, but parents who clean their baby's pacifiers simply by popping it into their own mouths may be lowering their child's risk of allergies.

The researchers said this positive impact could be due to parents passing on healthy microorganisms via their mouths and boosting their child's immune system.

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However, Abou-Jaoude cautions parents from concluding that sucking on their baby's pacifier to clean it will lower their child's risk of developing allergies.

According to new US research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the children of mothers who sucked on their pacifiers in order to clean them had a lower allergic response than children whose mothers cleaned the soothers either by sterilization or hand washing.

"There are lots of commensal or good bacteria in the microbiome that may really help your baby develop a tolerance to it as they age", notes Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Children's Hospital.

"If I understand the paper and the figure correct, [the new study] found lower IgE levels in children whose parents reported sucking on their pacifier, and that finding supports our results", said Dr. Bill Hesselmar, an associate professor in pediatrics at the University of Gothenburg who authored that study. That being said, sucking your baby's pacifier to clean it might not necessarily lower the child's risk of developing allergies.

The finding may sound unusual, but it's actually just the latest piece of research to link allergies and bacteria together. "But that doesn't mean that if you have high IgE, you're definitely going to have allergies".

Still, there are more practical - and perhaps more pleasant - ways to prevent allergies in children. Additional analyses indicated the differences were first seen at about 10 months.

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