Sucking your baby’s pacifier to clean it may prevent allergies

If the thought of sucking your baby’s pacifier to clean it and then popping it in your baby’s mouth grosses you out, think again.


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.

The study involved 128 mothers of infants multiple times over a period of 18 months and asked how they cleaned their child’s pacifier. Scientists found the children of mothers who sucked on the pacifier had lower IgE levels.

IgE is a type of antibody related to allergic responses in the body. Although there are exceptions, higher IgE levels indicate a higher risk of having allergies and allergic asthma.

Of the 128 moms finishing various meetings, 58 percent announced current pacifier use by their child. Of the individuals who had a child utilizing a pacifier, 41 percent detailed cleaning by sterilization, 72 percent revealed hand washing the pacifier, and 12 percent announced parental pacifier sucking.

Allergist Edward Zoratti, MD, ACAAI member and co-author of the study said, “We found that parental pacifier sucking was linked to suppressed IgE levels beginning around 10 months, and continued through 18 months. Further research is needed, but we believe the effect may be due to the transfer of health-promoting microbes from the parent’s mouth. It is unclear whether the lower IgE production seen among these children continues into later years.”

“We know that exposure to certain microorganisms early in life stimulates the development of the immune system and may protect against allergic diseases later. Parental pacifier sucking may be an example of a way parents may transfer healthy microorganisms to their young children. 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.”

Abstract Title: Association Between Pacifier Cleaning Methods and Child Total IgE

Study Author: Eliane Abou-Jaoude, MD

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