Baby binkies: Should parents be sucking them too?

Related articles

pacifierPut this one in under odd news. Sucking on a pacifier shouldn t just be for babies, Swedish researchers say when parents do so, it may actually help protect babies from problems later in life.

Parents sucking on their infant s pacifier may reduce the risk of allergy development, possibly via immune stimulation by microbes transferred to the infant via the parent s saliva, write researchers led by microbiologist Agnes E. Wold in Pediatrics.

The researchers followed 184 families with newborns recruited from a Swedish hospital for three years, examining their sensitization to airborne and food allergies at 18 and 36 months of age. Children whose parents cleaned their pacifier by sucking on it were 88 percent less likely to have asthma and 63 percent less likely to have eczema than children whose parents did not use the sucking technique. And there was no indication that babies whose parents sucked on the pacifiers got colds or coughs more often than those who didn t, the study found.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross says, The concern about parental contamination of pacifiers was based on the fear that such a practice would transmit cariogenic bacteria germs that might cause cavities in developing baby teeth. That problem did not arise in this study. The theoretical rationale for the beneficial effect on allergies is derived from the hygiene hypothesis, which posits that exposures to environmental immunogens, such as germs of various types, insects, and plain old dirt, might stimulate the toddler s immune system and render the child better able to combat such intruders later on, while babies protected from the outside world will be less able to defend themselves. From my own parental experience, I can say the first child gets ultra-clean stuff to play with, but as the years pass, less intense sanitary practices kick in for subsequent offspring. I have no idea if that makes the younger kids any healthier.