Western Daily Press - - WDP3 | Family Health -

Q WHEN my baby drops her dummy on the floor, I pick it up and suck it be­fore I give it back to her. Could me suck­ing the dummy make her ill, or is it an ac­cept­able thing for a par­ent to do?

A Dr ELIANE ABOU-JAOUDE, an al­lergy and im­munol­ogy fel­low at Henry Ford Health Sys­tem in Detroit, USA, has just led a study into how dif­fer­ent clean­ing meth­ods for dum­mies or paci­fiers af­fect al­ler­gylinked an­ti­bod­ies in a baby’s blood.

She says:

“Our study looked at in­fants and the method in which their paci­fier was cleaned: Ster­il­i­sa­tion (boil­ing, plac­ing in a dish­washer), wash­ing with hands and soap, or by the par­ent suck­ing on the paci­fier and giv­ing it to their chil­dren.

“Our idea was be­hind the fact that the bac­te­ria a child is ex­posed to in in­fancy can af­fect the devel­op­ment of the im­mune sys­tem.

“We looked at IgE lev­els – IgE is an an­ti­body in the blood that all peo­ple have, and the level is usu­ally higher in peo­ple who have al­ler­gies, asthma or eczema.

“We wanted to see if this level was dif­fer­ent in chil­dren whose par­ents used var­i­ous clean­ing meth­ods to clean their paci­fiers.

“We found that be­gin­ning around 10 months of age and un­til 18 months, the chil­dren whose paci­fiers were cleaned by the par­ent suck­ing on them had lower IgE tra­jec­tory.

“We only have re­sults un­til 18 months, but we plan on look­ing at this group of chil­dren around age five years again.

“This wasn’t a cause and ef­fect study, so we can’t state that if you clean your child’s paci­fier by suck­ing on it that the child will have low IgE lev­els and not de­velop al­ler­gies.

“We aren’t telling par­ents to change paci­fier clean­ing meth­ods be­cause both good and bad bac­te­ria can trans­fer to the child.

“These re­sults sup­port the con­cept that trans­fer of parental mi­cro­biota to chil­dren may sup­press IgE pro­duc­tion, a biomarker linked to the devel­op­ment of child­hood al­ler­gic dis­or­ders.”

Dr Eliane Abou-Jaoude

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