Sucking Your Baby's Pacifier May Provide Allergy Protection

Sucking Your Baby's Pacifier May Provide Allergy Protection

It's an old joke in parenting: you boil the pacifier for your first child, run it under water for your second, and just brush it off for your third. It turns out that the perceived laziness of experienced parents may actually be closer to what keeps babies the healthiest. In 2013, Swedish researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg reported that babies whose parents cleaned their pacifiers with their mouths were significantly less likely to develop allergies like asthma or eczema. The researchers followed 184 children from birth and kept tabs on how each baby's parents cleaned their pacifier, if they used one. If the pacifier fell on the floor, most parents cleaned it under running water. Some boiled the pacifier to remove all germs, and others did seemingly the opposite: they sucked on the pacifier to clean off any debris before putting it back in their baby's mouth. Surprisingly, at age one and a half, the children whose parents regularly sucked on their pacifiers were three times less likely to suffer from eczema, as well as less likely to experience asthma. Once the children hit three years of age, the protection against asthma seemed to disappear, but they were still less likely to develop eczema. Learn more about why bacteria can be beneficial in the videos below.

To Protect Your Baby, Suck On The Pacifier

Research shows that children whose parents suck on their pacifiers are at lower risk for allergies.

The Hygiene Hypothesis

Allergies might be on the rise because cleanliness is putting good bacteria on the decline.

Peanuts Might Protect Against Peanut Allergies

Keep peanuts away from babies? Not so fast.

05:19

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that mothers eliminate common allergens from their diets while nursing, and from children's diets for the first few years of life. (0:43)

  • 2

    A study showed that exposure to peanuts for the first four years of life can lower the risk of developing peanut allergies. (2:06)

  • 3

    The Hygiene Hypothesis suggests that as we've made our environment more sterile, our immune systems have developed differently than they used to. (4:00)

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