Skip to content
Hem Prevent allergies by sucking on children’s pacifiers!

Prevent allergies by sucking on children’s pacifiers!

Baby sucks on pacifier

This post is also available in: Svenska

Last week I wrote about allergies – phobias of the immune system. In that post, I explained that allergies occur when the body’s immune system doesn’t recognise nuts, or pollen, or labrador fur, or egg white protein as harmless and instead, react as if it is dangerous. But is there any way to prevent allergies?

Read more about what an allergy is

Why does the immune system react to allergens?

A lot of research is being conducted to understand what causes the immune system to react in a way that it fails to distinguish between dangerous and harmless exposures. We know that allergic predisposition occurs in families, but also that they have become enormously more common in recent decades. Children in countries with a high hygienic standards are more allergic than children in countries with a low standard. And children on farms, are less allergic than children living in the city.

Agnes Wold and her research colleagues have published an article about how parents’ sucking on their child’s pacifier and returning it to the child to suck, can reduce their children’s risk of allergies. It is published today in Pediatrics, one of the world’s leading pediatric journals.

Agnes and her colleagues have examined 184 children from birth to age three. Most children had at least one allergic parent. Pediatricians examined whether the children had symptoms of allergy at one and a half and three years of age. When the children were 6 months old, the parents were interviewed about how they used to clean the children’s pacifiers when it was dirty. When the children were 4 months old, saliva samples were taken and the bacterial flora was examined.

Pacifier does not protect against allergies

Three quarters of the children used a pacifier at 6 months of age. Using a pacifier in this study did not protect against allergies, compared to not doing so.

Prevent allergies by sucking on children’s pacifiers

The parents of 65 children said that they used to suck on their children’s pacifiers to “clean” them. At one and a half years of age, the risk of asthma in children whose parents sucked on their pacifiers was reduced, as was the risk of eczema. The protection against eczema lasted until the age of three, but not the protection against asthma.

Read more about eczema in children here

Parents’ sucking on pacifiers do not cause more colds

The researchers also investigated whether children of parents who sucked on their pacifiers, got more infections as infants. The hypothesis was that the cold virus could be transferred from parent to child via the pacifier. Could it be because parents who had a cold, did not suck on the children’s pacifiers while they were sick? Or they did suck on the pacifiers but the children still did not catch a cold.

It is unnecessary to boil pacifiers

In the study, no benefits were seen with boiling pacifiers.

Maybe the bacteria in the saliva is ‘kind’.

In a mother’s womb, a child does not have a single bacterium. As soon as the baby is born, bacteria begins to settle on the baby’s skin, in their mouth, stomach and intestines. We interact with our bacteria. It seems to be important which bacteria settles with us. Preferably we want kind bacteria that interact well with our immune system.

The bacteria in the saliva of the children whose parents sucked on their pacifiers were different from the children whose parents did not suck on the pacifiers. Perhaps it is a mechanism behind the protection, that the parents’ bacterial flora is transmitted to the child early.

Pacifier use is extra important after a cesarean section!

Vaginal delivery was shown to protect against eczema, in this and in previous studies. During a vaginal birth, the baby is exposed to the mother’s vaginal bacteria and also to her intestinal bacteria for many hours. This seems to be more beneficial compared to being most exposed to skin bacteria (as after a caesarean section). Children who were born by caesarean section and whose parents did not suck on the pacifiers also had the highest incidence of eczema in the entire study.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *