Surprising Study Shows Sucking On Your Baby's Pacifier Might Prevent Allergies

Sucking on your baby's pacifier to clean it may lower child's allergy risk: study

That's according to a new study, which has yet to be peer reviewed, from the Henry Ford Health System in MI. No fathers were included in the research. Of those who had a child using a dummy, some said they cleaned the product by sterilisation, while others said they hand washed it, and a small quantity (12 per cent) reported sucking it.

The researchers tracked the babies for only 18 months, making it unclear whether lower IgE levels in infancy would translate to fewer allergies later in life.

A new study found that babies whose mothers cleaned their pacifiers by sucking on them have low levels of IgE, an antibody that is increased in allergies and asthma. It's possible that the protective effects may be due to parents passing on healthy oral bacteria in their saliva, which could strengthen the child's immune system.

The study corroborates results from a previous study published by investigators at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden in 2013, which also suggested that parental sucking of infants pacifiers may reduce the risk of allergy development, "possibly via immune stimulation by microbes transferred to the infant via the parent's saliva", according to the authors.

But researchers said the habit can actually transfer healthy micro-organisms to children.

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A U.S. research team interviewed 128 mothers of infants multiple times over an 18-month period and asked how they cleaned their child's dummy. "All is we know is, people with allergies, they usually have higher levels of IgE antibodies". This hypersensitivity causes the body to overreact by producing a disproportionate immune response when contacting an allergen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on allergies. Studies so far have linked both genetic and environmental factors to allergies.

Scientists cautioned the study, being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Seattle, required more research. The results are based on a survey of 53,575 US adults.

Dr Abou-Jaoude said that while it indicated an association between parental pacifier sucking and children with lower IgE levels, it does not necessarily mean the practice itself causes the lower levels. For instance, the same parents might let their children play outside in the dirt more or may live in less sanitized households.

Researchers plan to follow up with the kids in four to five years to see if any allergies develop.

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