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Study: Benefit to Sucking Your Baby's Pacifier Clean?

05.08.13 Study: Benefit to Sucking Your Baby's Pacifier Clean?

pacifier saliva

Every parent has made that quick move; your baby's pacifier drops onto the floor, into the dirt, under the stroller and a few seconds later, with the help of some hearty parent spit, that pacifier is good to go and popped back into an open and waiting mouth for more sucking comfort.

New research sheds some interesting light on that impulse. 

A recent small study in Sweden (and published in the journal Pediatrics) has taken a closer look at the benefits of self cleaning your baby's pacifier. 184 Swedish babies who were particularly allergy-prone (at least one parent with allergies) were studied regularly by a pediatric allergist, starting at birth and checked via phone calls and exams over a 3 year period.

Scientists observed that by the time babies were 18 months old, those whose parents sucked their pacifiers cleaned developed fewer allergies and were less likely to have asthma and eczema than those who had their pacifiers sterilized in boiling water or even rinsed with clean water. This was attributed to parents exposing their babies to bacteria in their saliva and subsequently stimulating their babies' immune systems.

"It's really an interesting study, because it supports the theory of the hygiene hypothesis," according to allergy specialist, Dr. Samuel Friedlander. Explained to ABC news, "It's a theory that states 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."

Scientists agree that more research is needed and that these findings don't prove that parent's saliva protects their babies against allergies, but rather may help boost bacterial diversity and ultimately foster immunity.

What are (or were) your habits for cleaning a dropped pacifier?

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