(WXYZ) – Many parents love pacifiers as a way to soothe their baby, but the downside is that it often falls on the floor. A recent study finds a particular way of cleaning it can affect a baby’s health.
Parent’s saliva may be protective
Researchers from the Henry Ford Health System found parents who suck their child’s pacifier to clean it may be boosting their child’s immune system development.
The study followed 128 mothers who cleaned pacifiers 3 different ways, either by sterilizing it in boiling water, washing it with soap and water or just popping it in their mouth and using plain old saliva. Now what the researchers found was, the babies whose Moms used saliva ended up with fewer antibodies called Immunoglobulin E, by the time they were 10 months old.
This is good because these antibodies are linked to the development of allergies and asthma
So why might this be happening?
The researchers think healthy oral bacteria could be passed through the Mom’s saliva which then affects their child’s immune system. The study certainly doesn’t prove you can prevent allergies this way. But it does indicate that microbe exposure early in life can affect immune system development later on in life.
So is it ok if parents start exposing their babies to their saliva as a precaution?
Generally, there’s no harm in cleaning a pacifier by sucking on it. It’s similar to how a parent shares saliva via a fork, spoon, straw, or cup. But I would advise against it if a parent has an infection like herpes, mono or strep because they are all very contagious. And research suggests that you could spread oral bacteria called mutans streptococci through saliva if you have active tooth decay. And this could increase your child’s risk for cavities.
Also be aware of the potential of spreading bad bacteria and other germs like the cold or flu
I wouldn’t clean a pacifier with your mouth if it falls onto surfaces that aren’t very clean. I would instead advise you to clean the pacifier very thoroughly using use soap and water, or the dishwasher if it’s dishwasher safe or by boiling it.
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Data pulled from WXYZ