Your baby drops their pacifier on the ground or table. What do you do? Wash it in the sink or put it in your mouth to clean it off? It looks like putting it in your mouth to clean it off may not be a bad idea.
This week, in the journal Pediatrics, researchers followed 184 infants from birth to 36 months to determine the association between multiple risk factors including mouth flora (bacterial types) and the subsequent risk of developing allergies or asthma. By the age of 18 months, 25% of all children had developed eczema (atopic dermatitis), 15% food allergies, and 5% asthma. Children whose parents cleaned their pacifier by sucking on it had a 88% lower risk of developing asthma, and a 63% lower risk of food allergies and eczema at 18 and 38 months.
The study authors noted that children whose parents sucked on their pacifiers had a more diverse group of bacteria within their mouths. They also noted that infants who were delivered naturally had a lower risk of developing allergies than those delivered by Caesarean section (surgery). This study appears to support the explanation for increased allergic diseases in the modern age termed the hygiene hypothesis. This hypothesis states that the lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents increases the susceptibility to allergic diseases and autoimmune disorders by limiting the natural development of the immune system.