Mothers who suck child's dummy to clean it may help prevent allergies

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By Sarah Knapton ,  The Telegraph

Parents who suck on their child's dummy to clean it could be helping them avoid allergies, a study suggests.

Researchers said the habit may transfer healthy micro-organisms in the mouth to children, giving their immune system a boost.

The study involving 128 mothers and their children found those whose dummies were sucked had lower levels of  Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody related to allergic responses in the body.

High IgE levels typically indicate a greater risk of having allergies and allergic asthma, but those who their dummies sucked showed almost a 50 per cent drop.

"We interviewed mothers of infants multiple times over a period of 18 months and asked how they cleaned their child's pacifier," said allergist and lead author Dr Eliane Abou-Jaoude, of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

"We found the children of mothers who sucked on the pacifier had lower IgE levels.

"IgE is a type of antibody related to allergic responses in the body. Although there are exceptions, higher IgE levels indicate a higher risk of having allergies and allergic asthma."

Scientists cautioned that the study, being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting in Seattle, need more research to find out what was driving the effect and to see if lasted.

© Getty Morphology of a baby, This image shows the morphology of a baby. (Photo by: QAI Publishing/UIG via Getty Images)

Author Dr Edward Zoratti,  added: "Further research is needed, but we believe the effect may be due to the transfer of health-promoting microbes from the parent's mouth.

"We found that parental dummy sucking was linked to suppressed IgE levels beginning around 10 months, and continued through 18 months.

"It is unclear whether the lower IgE production seen among these children continues into later years."

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