Most new moms are willing to do just about anything to keep their babies healthy and safe.
They stock up on hand sanitizer, ban visitors with even the slightest sniffles, and generally go on a warpath against germs and potential contaminants.
So it’s not surprising that plenty of moms would find the idea of cleaning a pacifier with their mouths before handing it back to their baby repulsive — but it turns out that doing just that may actually be good for your little one.
Recent research presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting points to a potential link between the swapping of pacifier spit and a reduction in future allergies.
Over the course of 18 months, 128 mothers of infants were interviewed and asked how they cleaned their children’s pacifiers. The study results found that the children of mothers who sucked the pacifier clean presented with lower levels of lgE, an antibody associated with allergic responses.
The study’s authors acknowledged the need for more research, but proposed the theory that the observed reduced allergic responses may have been the result of “health-promoting microbes” transferred from the parent’s mouth to the pacifier and then on to the baby.
The potential downfalls
However, this research is new and may still need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Dr. Andrew Bernstein, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine pointed out the relatively small number of participants in the study and the short study timeline.
While the concept shows some promise, it needs more research.
He then told Healthline, “In contrast, there are concerns that when parents suck on their baby’s pacifiers, it may transfer the bacteria that cause cavities, leading to earlier tooth decay.”
A statement from the American Dental Association in 2013 backs up that concern, claiming that licking a pacifier “can potentially transfer cavity-causing bacteria from the parent to baby which may increase the baby’s chance of developing tooth decay as they grow.”