New research suggests that parents who pop a pacifier into their mouth to clean it, rather than washing it with soap and water, could be reducing their child’s risk of allergies.

[maxbutton id=”1″ url=”” text=”SUBSCRIBE TO NEWS” ]

Researchers found that infants whose parents used this technique had lower blood levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) – a sign of allergic response – over their first 18 months of life.

The results may support previous research suggesting that parental microbes transferred by the pacifier help to boost the baby’s immune system, the study team said November 16 at the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s (ACAAI) annual conference in Seattle, Washington.

“The main finding of the research is an association between parents that clean their infant’s pacifier by sucking on it and lower levels of serum IgE antibody,” lead author Dr. Eliane Abou-Jaoude, an Allergy and Immunology Fellow at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, told Reuters Health by email.