16/11/2018 11:09 GMT | Updated 16/11/2018 11:10 GMT

Sucking Your Child's Dummy Is The Best Way To Clean It, Study Suggests

It could reduce their risk of allergies, according to new research.

It may sound gross, but giving your child’s dummy a quick suck to clean it, rather than sterilising it, could boost their health, new research suggests.

The study looked at an antibody called IgE among children and surveyed their parents about dummy-cleaning methods. IgE is related to allergic responses in the body and although there are exceptions, higher IgE levels indicate a higher risk of having allergies and allergic asthma, the researchers said. 

Children whose parents sucked their dummy clean were found to have lower IgE levels than kids whose dummies were sanitised, suggesting they may have a lower risk of allergies. 

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The study authors interviewed 128 mothers via multiple interviews over the course of 18 months. Almost three-fifths (58 per cent) reported their child regularly using a dummy. 

Of those, almost half (41 per cent) of mums reported cleaning their child’s dummy by sterilisation, while just 12 per cent said they sucked their child’s dummy in order to clean it. 

But it was this second group of children who had lower IgE levels. The researchers said this positive impact could be due to parents passing on healthy microorganisms via their mouths and boosting their child’s immune system. However, they noted more research on the area is needed. 

“We know that exposure to certain microorganisms early in life stimulates development of the immune system and may protect against allergic diseases later,” study author Dr Abou-Jaoude said. 

“Parental pacifier [dummy] sucking may be an example of a way parents may transfer healthy microorganisms to their young children. Our study indicates an association between parents who suck on their child’s pacifier and children with lower IgE levels but does not necessarily mean that pacifier sucking causes lower IgE.”  

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.