Sucking your baby's pacifier may benefit their health

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

New research being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting suggests a link between sucking on your kid's pacifier, and a potential lower risk of that child developing allergies or asthma.

IgE is a type of antibody that is produced when the immune system overreacts to an allergen, which can then cause an allergic reaction.

High IgE levels typically indicate a greater risk of having allergies and allergic asthma, but those who their dummies sucked showed nearly a 50 per cent drop. They tracked levels of that protein, the IgE antibody, in 74 infants whose mothers reported using pacifiers.

Among the three methods, 30 mothers sterilised it, 53 cleaned it with soap and water and nine sucked on the pacifier. Moreover, a significant time interaction was detected for pacifier sucking (P=.079), indicating that the trajectory shape differed between children of pacifier-sucking versus non-pacifier sucking parents.

"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", Eliane Abou-Jaoude, an allergist fellow with the health system and the study's lead author, said in an online statement.

It is unclear whether the lower IgE production observed among these children continues as the infants grow older.

Popping your baby's pacifier into your own mouth might do more than just clean it off - doctors say it might help prevent your child from developing allergies and asthma.

In that study, children whose parents cleaned their pacifier by sucking it (N=65) were less likely to have asthma (OR.12; 95% CI.01-.99) eczema (OR.37; 95% CI.15-.91) and sensitization (OR.37; 95% CI.10-1.27) at 18 months of age than children whose parents did not suck on their children's pacifiers (N=58). Linear mixed effect models were used to model log-transformed total IgE trajectories.

The study suggests babies may receive "healthy oral bacteria that will affect the early development of their child's immune system", when a pacifier is cleaned in this way.

When a mother sucked on her baby's pacifier - as opposed to sterilizing or washing it - researchers found that her baby had lower levels of a protein thought to cause allergies.

It is the first retrospective U.S. study to explore the association between different methods of cleaning a baby's pacifier and IgE levels.

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