Sucking on your baby's pacifier may help prevent allergies

This weird way to clean a binky could have health benefits.

Jan. 16, 2018—New parents, file this one under gross but possibly good for your baby: Popping your little one's dirty pacifier in your mouth might lower their risk for allergies and allergic asthma, a new study shows.

Researchers asked 128 new moms how they cleaned their infant's pacifier. Most said they sterilized or hand-washed the binkies. But 12 percent said they cleaned the pacifiers by sucking on them.

That kind of pacifier popping had a surprising correlation. Moms who sucked on the soothers had babies with lower levels of IgE. That's a type of antibody involved in allergic responses. Higher levels are tied to a higher risk for allergies and asthma.

Lower IgE levels were seen in babies as young as 10 months. And the benefit continued until they were 18 months old. When little ones get a pacifier coated in their parent's saliva, they may be getting some of the healthy microbes from mom or dad's mouth. That could have a protective effect, the study authors say. But more research is needed to know for sure.

The findings were presented at an annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

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