Researchers at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit found that mothers who pop their offspring’s pacifier in their mouth to clean it after it falls to the ground (rather than hand wash or sterilize it) have babies with lower IgE levels, associated with a lower risk of allergy development. The team monitored babies’ IgE levels at birth, six months and 18 months of age.
The findings align with an earlier study that found that families who hand wash their dishes have less allergic children than those who use a dishwasher.
The researchers did not recommend that parents lick their baby’s pacifier clean to ward off allergies. This is not a cause-and-effect relationship, emphasized lead author Eliane Abou-Jaoude, MD. “What we can say is that the microbes a child is exposed to early on in life are going to affect their immune system development.”
More study is needed. The research was presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.