Sucking your child's dummy 'clean' could give them a health boost

Sucking your baby’s pacifier might protect them from allergies study says

"Parental pacifier sucking" is linked to a lower allergic response in kids.

"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.

The study by the Henry Ford Health System, which was presented last weekend to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, compared how a group of mothers cleaned their child's pacifier.

In a survey of 128 mothers, those who cleaned their children's pacifiers by sucking on them appeared to suppress serum IgE levels beginning around the time their child reached the age of 10 months (P=.048), with continued divergence through the time their child reached age 18 months (P=.014). "Our study indicates an association between parents who suck on their child's pacifier and children with lower IgE levels, but does not necessarily mean that pacifier sucking causes lower IgE".

"Although we can't say there's a cause and effect relationship, we can say the microbes a child is exposed to early on in life will affect their immune system development", said Eliane Abou-Jaoude, the study's lead author.

Of those, nearly half (41 per cent) of mums reported cleaning their child's dummy by sterilisation, while just 12 per cent said they sucked their child's dummy in order to clean it.

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Could sucking on your baby's pacifier reduce their risk of developing asthma and allergies?

'It is unclear whether the lower IgE production seen among these children continues into later years'.

"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 the thought of putting a dirty soother in your mouth revolts you, there are other scientifically proven, but less disgusting ways to prevent allergies.

It's not clear what causes allergies or why some people are more predisposed than others. MacGinnitie said that early exposure to some foods, for example, may protect against allergies.

Additional analyses indicated the differences were first seen at about 10 months, researchers said. Children who grow up with pets also tend to have a lower allergy risk. But he added that, for most parents, "that's probably not realistic".

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