Sucking your baby's pacifier may benefit their health

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Many parents probably think nothing of sucking on their baby's pacifier to clean it after it falls to the ground. Turns out, doing so may benefit their child's health.

A Henry Ford Health System study found that babies whose parents sucked on their pacifier to clean it had a lower level of the antibody that is linked to the of allergies and asthma.

Researchers theorize parents may be passing healthy oral bacteria in their saliva that will affect the early development of their child's immune system.

The study is being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology meeting in Seattle.

"Although we can't say there's a cause and effect relationship, we can say the microbes a child is exposed to early on in life will affect their development," says Eliane Abou-Jaoude, M.D., a Henry Ford allergist fellow and the study's lead author.

"From our data, we can tell that the children whose pacifiers were cleaned by their parents sucking on the pacifier, those children had lower IgE levels around 10 months of age through 18 months of age."

The retrospective study is believed to the first of its kind in the United States to evaluate the association between pacifier cleaning methods and the antibody Immunoglobulin E, or IgE. IgE is linked to the development of allergies and asthma. The findings are compatible with those from a 2013 Swedish study, which reported an association between parents sucking on their baby's pacifier with a reduced risk of development.

Eliane Abou-Jaoude, M.D., a Henry Ford Health System allergist fellow and the study's lead author. Credit: Henry Ford Health System

The Henry Ford study involved 128 mothers who were asked about how they cleaned their baby's pacifier: Sterilizing it in boiling water or dishwasher, cleaning it with soap and water and sucking on it. Among the three methods, 30 mothers sterilized it, 53 cleaned it with soap and water and nine sucked on the pacifier.

Researchers compared the babies' IgE levels at birth, six months and 18 months for each cleaning method, and found a "significantly lower level IgE level for at 18 months" whose mothers sucked on the pacifier to clean it. Additional analyses indicated the differences were first seen at about 10 months.

Dr. Abou-Jaoude cautions from concluding that sucking on their baby's to clean it will lower their child's risk of developing allergies. More research is needed to examine that potential correlation, Dr. Abou-Jaoude says.

Explore further

Dummies not to blame for common speech disorder in kids

Citation: Sucking your baby's pacifier may benefit their health (2018, November 16) retrieved 19 May 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Nov 16, 2018
Might you look rather stupid sucking a baby pacifier?

Nov 16, 2018
I am sorry humy, but of the 10,000 difficult things a good parent suffers or is willing to suffer for their children, looking stupid is in the bottom 1% of the list, if it on the list at all.

Nov 17, 2018
Wasn't too long ago, there was a fad among teenagers of wearing and sucking baby pacifiers.

And I have vague memories from years ago, a guy I was working with doing it on his breaks. He said his doctor recommended it to cut down on his smoking addiction?

Nov 30, 2018
Who never pop a pacifier into their mouth, let first throw a rock ;) Isn't that a normal reflex? Good to know that it could be helpful in building children's immunology system but I'm happy that I'm after ditching the dummy. I can recommend a guide from which is an extremely helpful compilation of pacifier weaning systems.

Dec 28, 2018
Jane thanks for the link. I heard some good opinions about this guide but I forgot what was the name. Susan Urban is doing great job there!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more