Suckling your baby's pacifier may protect against allergies, says research


Parents, do not be afraid to suck.

This is the advice of a new research that, while unpleasant – perhaps literally, depending on where the pacifier has been discarded – could protect babies from developing allergies.

The findings are being presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, held Nov. 19 in Seattle.

Raw sound?

Perhaps. But mothers who clean their pacifiers by sucking them have babies with a minor allergic response, according to research at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Video: The lead researcher discusses the findings

The study interviewed 128 mothers over a period of 18 months and asked how they cleaned their babies' pacifiers. Of the 74 babies who used one of them, 72% said they washed them by hand, 41% said they sterilized and 12% said they had cleaned their pacifiers.

Scientists found that babies whose mothers had clean pacifiers had lower levels of IgE, an antibody associated with allergic reactions. High levels of IgE typically indicate a higher risk of allergies and allergic asthma.

"We found that parents' pacifier suction was linked to suppressed IgE levels starting around 10 months and continuing for 18 months," said Dr. Edward Zoratti, an allergist and co-author of the study. "More research is needed, but we believe the effect may be due to the transfer of health-promoting microbes from the parents' mouth."

Do you follow this? Spreading the germs from a parent's mouth was found to boost the child's immune system.

The research did not prove cause and effect, and it is unclear whether the lower IgE production observed among these children continues in later years.

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