Sucking on Your Baby's Pacifier May Actually Provide Health Benefits

Image: WarmSleepy/Creative CommonsIf your baby loves his pacifier, then you know how awful it is when it hits the ground in a public place where you've got nowhere to clean it. But when the baby is crying for it and you've got nowhere to turn, desperate times call for desperate measures. It becomes time to bite the bullet and clean the dirt off by popping it in your own mouth and cleaning it with your own saliva. While it all sounds disgusting (it's amazing what parents will do for their babies), it turns out that in doing this you may actually be giving your child much more than just the chance to soothe themselves again.

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In a study published in the online journal Pediatrics, a team of Swedish doctors followed more than 180 infants and their pacifier habits as well as their development of allergies several months later. The doctors collected and analyzed the saliva of the infants at four months old. The infants' pacifier use and cleaning methods were recorded at six months old, and the children were then tested for allergies at ages 18 months and 36 months, as well as whenever they showed symptoms of airborn or food allergies.

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What doctors found was that those children who used pacifiers that were cleaned with their parents' saliva appeared to be less likely to develop allergies. Doctors theroized that the reasoning behind this is that parents are stimulating immunity by transferring beneficial microbes to their children.

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If you you've been hesitant to allow your child to use a pacifier or are trying to break their pacifier habit at a young age, it looks like it might be worth letting them use it for at least a little while. However, while the study doesn't discuss it, you might want to consider putting the spit on your fingers and cleaning the pacifier that way rather than putting the germs from the pacifier that just hit the dirty sidewalk in your mouth so that you can stay healthy too.

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