Study suggests exposure to parent saliva may reduce babies' allergy risks


Parents who clean their babies' pacifiers in their own mouths may help to reduce infants' risk of allergies, suggests a Swedish study published online in Pediatrics. Among a group of 184 infants, 74% had pacifiers before 6 months of age. While almost all parents cleaned the pacifiers by rinsing them in tap water, about half also boiled them and nearly half sucked them. Children whose parents sucked their pacifiers were less likely to develop asthma and less likely to develop eczema by age 18 months. They also had fewer allergies to food and airborne sources. Protection against eczema -- but not asthma and allergy -- remained at age 36 months. The authors hypothesize that the increased exposure to their parents' saliva may help stimulate babies' immune systems. They also point out, though, that more study is needed before parental pacifier sucking can be recommended for reducing allergy development in infants. Read the article.

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