Sucking your baby’s pacifier might protect them from allergies

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

According to findings presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology conference, the incidence of shellfish allergy has grown by 7 percent, tree nuts by 18 percent, and peanuts by 21 percent.

A new study suggests it may be as simple as giving infants your own germs.

Of the 128 mothers participating in the research, 58 per cent reported that their child now used a pacifier.

The study, by Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, interviewed 128 mothers about their parenting habits.

But it was this second group of children who had lower IgE levels.

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).

More than half (58%) said their child now uses a dummy, and 12% of those parents said they sucked the dummy to clean it.

Researchers theorise parents may be passing healthy oral bacteria in their saliva that will affect the early development of their child's immune system. And researchers believe the reason behind all of these results is that microbes stimulate babies' immune systems and help them develop tolerances to things, instead of allergies.

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Those whose mothers suck on pacifiers themselves to clean them after they were dropped had lower levels of the antibody, meaning the children may be less prone to developing asthma, eczema and allergies.

They had lower levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody related to allergic responses in the body. More research is needed to examine that potential correlation, Dr. Abou-Jaoude says.

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

Our bodies develop antibodies to fight infections, but MacGinnitie said IgE antibodies are often produced in response to harmless substances - which is why they're closely associated with allergies.

Still, there are more practical - and perhaps more pleasant - ways to prevent allergies in children.

Studies have shown that "kids introduced to peanuts in the first year of life have a much lower chance of developing a peanut allergy", he said, and the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.

Children who grow up with pets also tend to have a lower allergy risk, MacGinnitie said, but that might be explained by genetics.

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