Suck That Paci, Dudes! Suck That Paci!

When our first little dude came around, our house was a demilitarized zone. Nothing moved without registering on the sensors, being tracked by anti-injury warheads and intercepted as necessary.

By the time our third little dude came toddling by, we were lucky if the guards hadn’t showed up for work drunk and then got bored before selling off parts of the wall to pay for the weekend cookout.

We were getting a bit slack, is what I’m saying. Mostly because we’d been through it all before.

One of the things I know I did, and possible done by She Who Must Be Pretending She Can’t Hear Me, with Hyper Lad when he was young was take a shortcut to cleaning his pacifier. When Sarcasmo and Zippy the Diaper Boy used binkies, a dropped binkie got sterilized in boiling water before being reinserted in wailing mouth.

We had a number of spares sitting around, just waiting to be used.

Hyper Lad. . . not so much.

If he dropped his pacifier, I mostly just picked it up, sucked off any dirt, spat it out, wiped it off and then reinserted now-clean binkie. None the worse for wear.

What I didn’t know was that I was doing something to Hyper Lad’s immune system. Namely making it better. Yep. Really.

Parents who suck on their child’s pacifier to clean it may be inadvertently reducing that child’s risk of developing allergies, researchers found.

At age 18 months, children born to parents who said they cleaned their child’s pacifier with their mouths were less likely than those born to parents who cleaned the pacifier in other ways to have asthma (odds ratio 0.12, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.99) and eczema (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.91), according to Bill Hesselmar, MD, PhD, of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues.

So, yeah, it seems as if slobbering on your little dudes and little dudettes can modify the bacteria in their guts and also modify their bodies’ response to various allergens. How cool is that?

We’ve always known that babies who drank breast milk inherited a portion of their mother’s immune resistance to various bugs and such, but this here is new. There are concerns, however, mostly with. . . cavities?

There is the possibility that cariogenic bacteria (which can cause dental cavities) can be transferred: “However, caries seems to be unrelated to pacifier use and may even be negatively associated with ‘close’ salivary contact between infant and parent,” the researchers wrote.

They acknowledged that the study was limited by the small sample size and by the difficulty of diagnosing asthma in early childhood, and called for replication in larger studies and in older children.

Still pretty cool. I wonder if I can get away with spitting on the little dudes now and then telling them it’s for their own good?


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