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NPR: Can Your Saliva Prevent Allergies in Your Child?

I was pretty astonished listening to NPR’s Morning Edition. The story was: “Parents’ Saliva On Pacifiers Could Ward Off Baby’s Allergies.”

Can spit really be good for your baby? It may, shows a small study of Swedish babies in the Journal of Pediatrics.

A new study in Sweden has shown that sucking, yes – by parents!, could be the most beneficial way to clean your baby’s dirty pacifier.

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They explain that “microbiomes” describe the collection of bacteria that live in and on our bodies. A child’s exposure to microbes early in life can affect their health because it influences their “microbiome.”

Parents who clean their child’s pacifier by sucking on them changes their child’s microbiomes. The study shows that children were significantly less likely to have allergies if their parents cleaned the pacifier this way.

This is true not only for allergies, but asthma and eczema as well – both caused by allergic reactions.

The study followed how parents cleaned their child’s pacifier when it fell out of their mouth. Did they rinse with water, boil them, suck them, etc.? Apparently sucking it and giving it back is a common way to clean a paci.

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There was a significant difference between kids whose parents used this method of cleaning to those who didn’t. Overall, “scientists think that when parents suck their child’s pacifier clean, they transfer some of the harmless bacteria in their mouths to their child.”

These bacterias can stimulate a child’s immune system and teaches their body not to overreact to common allergens like peanuts, pollen, and cats.

The question: Are kids today growing up too clean? Not that every parent wants to suck on a paci that just dropped on the ground, but exposing your child to some bacteria may be just fine.

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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