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Study: Mom's Saliva May Prevent Kids’ Eczema and Asthma


Have you ever cleaned your kid’s pacifier by sucking on it? A new study in Pediatrics found that it just might help prevent your little one from developing allergies.

Researchers at Queen Silvia Children's Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden studied over 180 babies. They found that infants whose parent cleaned their pacifiers by sucking on them were much less likely to develop asthma and eczema by 18 months than babies whose mom or dad didn’t use the method.  Eczema, but not asthma, continued at the lower rates for these tots at 36 months.

"The most exciting result was the eczema," Christine Johnson, chair of the public health department at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital, told NBC News.  "I'm a bit more skeptical about the asthma findings because asthma is hard to measure before a child is five or six years old."

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When sucking on pacifiers, parents transfer microscopic organisms called microflora to their kids though saliva. Researchers believe that the organisms act as a protective mechanism by stimulating the immune system.

“We know that if infants have diverse microflora in the gut, then children will have less allergy and less eczema,"  Dr. Bill Hesselmar, the study’s lead author, said.

Dr. Hesselmar says that the sucking method can be particularly helpful for C-section babies, who are not exposed to the same quantity of microorganisms as infants who are delivered vaginally.

"If they are using a pacifier and those parents think it's OK to suck on the pacifier, then yes, I would recommend it," Dr. Hesselmar said.

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In spite of the study, 35-year-old mom Amanda Sauer will probably not be changing her cleaning techniques any time soon, "just the fact that I don't really want to put a pacifier in my mouth,” she told NPR. “But sometimes the dog cleans it off for us, so maybe that's just as good."

Do you suck on your baby’s pacifier to clean it, or is that just going too far? Leave a comment.