Published: Sun, November 18, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

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

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

Over half (58 per cent) of the mothers interviewed reported that their child was now using a dummy.

The new study involved 128 mothers who were asked about how they cleaned their baby's pacifier: Sterilizing it in boiling water or dishwasher, cleaning it with soap and water and sucking on it.

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

A United States research team interviewed 128 mothers of infants multiple times over an 18-month period and asked how they cleaned their child's dummy.

Only a small percentage of moms sucked on the pacifiers to clean them - but the babies of those who did had lower levels of IgE when doctors tested their blood after 10 months, according to the site.

The researchers compared the levels of IgE in newborns, babies, children between the ages of six and eighteen months for each treatment method and found that "the level of IgE is significantly lower in infants" whose mothers were sucking the pacifier to clean it.

Researchers theorize parents may be passing healthy oral bacteria in their saliva that will affect the early development of their child's immune system.

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The researchers stressed that their findings suggest only a possible association between parental sucking on pacifiers and reduced allergy risk and not a direct causation.

They had lower levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody related to allergic responses in the body.

The new study, which hasn't been peer-reviewed, is "one more piece of data that early exposure to microbes helps prevent allergies", said Dr. Andrew MacGinnitie, clinical director of the Division of Immunology at Boston Children's Hospital.

"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", Abou-Jaoude said.

"Based on these levels, you can't really tell what's going to happen to these kids in the future", Abou-Jaoude said.

IgE is a type of antibody that is produced when the immune system overreacts to an allergen, which can then cause an allergic reaction. That's why, despite some optimism about the research, CNN says Dr. Abou-Jaoude "isn't recommending that parents start sucking on their children's pacifiers just yet".

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. Additional analyses indicated the differences were first seen at about 10 months.

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