Parents Sucking On Baby's Pacifier Reduces Kid's Allergy Risk

Parents who clean their baby's pacifiers by sticking them in their own mouths and sucking on them have somehow reduced their child's risk of developing allergy and asthma. That's the icky conclusion of a small study published today in Pediatrics based on research from a team at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Wow. Yesterday we had doctors at the 2013 Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual conference in Washington D.C tell us not to bother to toss the toothbrush after the kid has strep throat. And now this?

Now you and I may have labored under the happy delusion that if the baby drops the pacifier on the floor, you should wash it off. Maybe even boil it.

But apparently some parents in Sweden just suck it clean. In fact, almost half of them admitted to sucking their baby's pacifiers.


The research team followed 174 parents with babies for several years while testing them for allergies, eczema, and asthma.

And the whackadoo part is that at 18 months old, the babies of parents who sucked their pacifiers were less likely to have developed asthma or eczema.

Somehow, unfairly, exposing the baby to more germs was helpful to the child's health. A pediatric allergist from California, Dr. Ron Ferdman, speculated for Health Day on the reason why: "If your immune system is not presented with enough microbes, it just defaults to doing harmful attacks against things that are not harmful, like food, cat dander or dust mites."

So should you start sucking the baby's pacifier? Worse, when the brat drops it on the floor, are you now expected to clean it off with your mouth?

ABC talked to some American pediatricians who seemed skeptical. New York pediatric immunologist Dr. Jennifer Kim said that parents shouldn't change what's working on the basis of one study. Whew.

Would you ever suck on a pacifier to clean it, even to prevent allergies?

[baby with pacifier photo by Andrey Kuzmin via Shutterstock]