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Could Sucking Your Child’s Pacifier Be Beneficial?

If you are a first time parent, it isn’t uncommon to grab your child’s pacifier off the floor and immediately boil it or rinse it off before giving it back to your baby. For many years, doctors have told parents not to share utensils with their babies and not to clean the baby’s pacifier by putting it in their mouths because there is a chance of spreading harmful germs. Well, this may not be the case. A new study shows that this may actually have long term benefits for the baby’s health.

A new study that was published in the journal of Pediatrics shows that baby’s whose parents sucked on pacifiers had fewer allergies than children whose parents rinsed or boiled pacifiers to clean them off. The babies also proved to have lower rates of eczema, fewer signs of asthma and smaller amounts of a certain type of white blood cells that appear in response to allergies and other disorders. Studies show that babies who have some degree of exposure to germs at an early age have better health in the long run than those who are microbial deprived.

The study didn’t directly prove that pacifiers drenched in parents’ saliva were the cause of reduced allergies, more so, the practice may be a marker for parents who are overall more relaxed about shielding their children from dirt and germs. Dr. Samuel Friedlander, an allergy specialist at the University Hospital in Cleveland, says “It’s really an interesting study because it supports the theory of the hygiene hypothesis. It’s a theory that our world is too clean. The immune system is like an army, and if the army doesn’t have anything to fight, like germs, it fights allergens.”

174 babies and their parents were followed by researchers in Sahlgrenska Academy of Göteborg University in Sweden, testing them for allergies, eczema and asthma. Parents were asked how they cleaned off their baby’s pacifiers and data showed that nearly all of them used their mouths on occasion. Once the babies reached 18 months old, the babies whose parents sucked on their pacifiers were less likely to develop allergies, asthma and eczema. It was concluded that this was due to the babies being exposed to bacteria in the parents’ saliva, stimulating the babies’ immune systems.

So, if you are a first time parent and you make it a point to protect your baby from being exposed to germs, now is the time to sit back and relax. Of course it is important to protect your baby from getting sick, but being a little less obsessed with cleaning off the pacifier when it falls on the floor, or when one of their toys falls on the floor may be a good thing!

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