(HealthDay News) – Parental sucking of their infant’s pacifier is associated with a reduced risk of allergy development, according to a study published online May 6 in Pediatrics.

Bill Hesselmar, MD, PhD, from Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues examined a birth-cohort of 184 infants for clinical allergy and sensitization to airborne and food allergens at 18 and 36 months of age, and upon symptom occurrence. Parental interviews were conducted to determine pacifier use and pacifier cleaning practices when children were age 6 months old. Saliva samples were collected at 4 months of age to characterize infant oral microbiota.

The researchers found that, at age 18 months, children whose parents “cleaned” their pacifier by sucking it (65 children) were less likely to have asthma (odds ratio [OR], 0.12; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.01–0.99), eczema (OR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.15–0.91), and sensitization (OR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.1–1.27) compared to the 58 children whose parents did not use this cleaning technique. Significant protection against eczema persisted at age 36 months. Independent and additive protective effects against eczema were seen with vaginal delivery and parental pacifier sucking. Children whose parents cleaned their pacifier by sucking it had different salivary microbiota compared with those whose parents did not use this practice.

“Parental sucking of their infant’s pacifier may reduce the risk of allergy development, possibly via immune stimulation by microbes transferred to the infant via the parent’s saliva,” the authors write.

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