Have you ever sucked on your baby's pacifier to clean it? Many parents have. Babies drop their binkies all the time and if you're in a hurry or just figure a little spit-cleaning won't hurt, you're more likely to stick it in your own mouth and give it a quick once over.
A new study out of Sweden says the spit-cleaning technique may actually help your infant avoid eczema and asthma.
It was surprising that the effect was so strong, says pediatric allergist Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children's Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, lead author of the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
The study involved 136 infants who used a pacifier in their first 6 months. 65 of the infants had parents that reported sucking the pacifier to clean it. In those children, both eczema and asthma were strongly reduced when they were examined at 18 months of age. At 36 months of age, the protective effect remained for eczema but not for asthma.
Scientists didn't know why the sucking on the baby's pacifier acted as a protector or whether it was filtering out germs. The technique didn't have any impact on respiratory illness, meaning that the babies were not more likely to get a cold or the flu from their parents. Common sense would dictate that if you have a cold or the flu or any other contagious condition, then it's not a good idea to suck on your baby's binky. Otherwise, maybe it's not such a bad idea.
Why is sucking on your infant's pacifier possibly helpful in preventing asthma or eczema in your child? Scientists hypothesize that tiny organisms in the saliva of the parents may be why. Parent's saliva introduces gut micoflora that live in the digestive tract of the baby. We know that if infants have diverse microflora in the gut, then children will have less allergy and less eczema,says Hesselmar. When parents suck on the pacifier, they are transferring microflora to the child.
Many pediatricians and family doctors are concerned that children are being excessively cleaned into illness. With anti-bacterial soaps and swipes being used on everything, and kids not allowed to get dirty, their immune system isn't getting the workout it needs to help fight off common illnesses. The bacterial microorganisms provided in the parent's saliva might help stimulate the baby's immune system.
The most exciting result was the eczema, says Christine Johnson, chair of the public health department at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital. I'm a bit more skeptical about the asthma findings because asthma is hard to measure before a child is five or six years old.
Hesselmar also urges moms to lick the baby's pacifier if their child was delivered by C-section. Vaginal delivered babies receive quite a bit of microbes during delivery. C-section babies can be more prone to allergies. If they are using a pacifier and those parents think it's OK to suck on the pacifier, then yes, I would recommend it, Hesselmar says.
Some parents may find the idea of picking up a pacifier that's fallen on the floor and putting it in their mouth kind of disgusting. That's fine, there's no need to worry about it. If the idea doesn't bother you, all the better says Hesselmar, I haven't heard of anyone getting ill from it, he says. There isn't much bacteria on the floor.
Source: Barbara Mantel, http://www.today.com/moms/why-it-may-be-ok-spit-clean-your-babys-binkie-6C9773378