A new study published in Monday’s journal Pediatrics has found that the exposure of germs from pacifiers can help children by exposing them to important microbial conditions. The study finds that overcautious parents who sterilize pacifiers rob their children of dirt and germs that help the immune system develop at an early and important stage in life.
The study, which was conducted in Sweden, could not prove that parents’ saliva was a direct cause of reduced allergies. However, researchers found that parents who allowed their children to suck on dirty pacifiers tended to be more relaxed about shielding their children from dirt and germs.
The study matches other research which has shown a direct correlation between microbial infections and allergy development.
Several health studies have suggested that parents sucking on pacifiers could actually cause problems. Studies have found that sucking on pacifiers could transfer cavity-causing bacteria to the child.
According to lead study author Bill Hesselmar, we have known for some time that babies delivered vaginally accumulate different bacteria on their skin and in their guts than babies who are delivered by Caesarean section. Vaginally born babies have been linked to a lower risk of hay fever, asthma, and food allergies.
The new study followed 180 children from birth. The children involves received regular check-ups from a pediatric allergist, and their parents kept a diary about food introduction, weaning, and other major events in their child’s life.
The study discovered that, at 18 months, 25% of children had eczema and 5% had asthma. Researchers found that parents who occasionally cleaned their children’s pacifiers by sucking on them were significantly less likely to have children with eczema. The study also found through blood testing that those same children had lower levels of a type of immune cell associated with allergies.
Researchers then discovered that children born via C-section and whose pacifiers were rinsed or boiled had a higher prevalence of eczema. The risk of eczema for C-section-born children with rinsed pacifiers was nearly 55%. Parents who gave birth vaginally and washed their child’s pacifiers with their own mouths had the lowest ezcema group at 20%.
Parents do need to be cautious with the pacifier practice as young children have been known to contract Streptococcus mutans, a strain they usually contract from their mothers. Children, of course, could receive strep throat simply from kissing their parents.
Parents suck on baby’s pacifier reduces kid’s allergy risk: http://www.inquisitr.com/650249/parents-sucking-on-babys-pacifier-reduces-kids-allergy-risk/
Sucking your child’s pacifier clean may have benefits: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/why-dirty-pacifiers-may-be-your-childs-friend/
Pacifier on Tree: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pacifier_on_tree.jpg