Parents’ Saliva: A Cleaning Fluid for Pacifiers

The presumed link between cleanliness and parental goodliness may need a slight refocusing, suggests this study:

hesselmarPacifier Cleaning Practices and Risk of Allergy Development,” Bill Hesselmar [pictured here], Fei Sjöberg, Robert Saalman, Nils Åberg, Ingegerd Adlerberth and Agnes E. Wold, Pediatrics, epub May 6, 2013. The authors, at Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, explain:

We investigated whether pacifier cleaning practices affected the risk of allergy development…. Children whose parents “cleaned” their pacifier by sucking it were less likely to have asthma, eczema, and sensitization at 18 months of age than children whose parents did not use this cleaning technique. Protection against eczema remained at age 36 months.

CONCLUSIONS: 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.

(Thanks to investigator Ron Josephson for bringing this to our attention.)

The New York Times‘s Wellness blog discusses this.