Never underestimate biology!
According to the results of a new study conducted by the Henry Ford Health System, sucking on your baby’s pacifier could help prevent the child from developing allergies and asthma.
Over a course of 18 months, 128 mothers were periodically asked to identify which method of cleaning their child’s pacifier they used: sterilizing it by using hot water, cleaning it with soap and water or by using their own saliva.
Out of the 74 infants who were reported as using pacifiers, only 12 percent of mothers said they cleaned the pacifiers with their own saliva while most washed them by hand and 41 percent also sterilized the pacifiers, Today reported.
During the study, blood tests were conducted at birth, after 10 months and then again after 18 months to determine the levels of Immunoglobin E (IgE) present. Higher IgE levels are typically indicative of an increased risk to allergies and asthma.
In a statement announcing the findings of the new study, lead author Eliane Abou-Jaoude, M.D., shared that those children “whose pacifiers were cleaned by their parents sucking on the pacifier … had lower IgE levels around 10 months of age through 18 months of age.”
“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,” the Henry Ford allergist fellow continued.
The findings of the study echoed that of a 2013 study in Sweden, which hypothesized that the microbes present in parents’ saliva might be responsible for stimulating their children’s immune system.
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However, Dr. Abou-Jaoude went on to say that further research needed to be conducted before a definitive conclusion could be reached.
“The same way that children can get good bacteria, they can also get bad bacteria,” Dr. Abou-Jaoude told NBC News.
Whasun “Sun” Oh Chung, a University of Washington School of Dentistry research professor, echoed this sentiment, telling Today that while “saliva is a very versatile tool,” it can also transmit germs and bacteria that can cause cavities.
Today reported that the researchers plan to follow up with the mothers and their children over the years to document which of the children involved will go on to develop allergies and asthma.