Wednesday , October 20 2021

Sucking the baby's nap can protect them from allergies, says the study


NEW YORK (CNN) – Your child's nap falls on the floor. Before returning it to your child, wash it in a sink or, perhaps reluctantly, clean it with your own saliva?

Do not feel guilty if you choose the latter because a new study suggests that a mother's saliva – and its bacteria – can help prevent allergies in small children.

The research found lower levels of a troublesome, allergic-causing protein in infants whose mothers reported that they said on their infant's stimulants and contributed to a growing evidence that early exposure to microbes could prevent allergies in children.

"The idea is that the microbes you are exposed to in infants can affect the development of your immune system later in life," says Dr. Eliane Abou-Jaoude, an allergy company with the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. She presents her results this weekend at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.

Research has shown that people living close to cattle, those who avoid dishwashers and infants born through the microwaved vaginal canal – instead of via the C-section – are less likely to develop allergies.

The new study, which has not been reviewed, is "additional data that early exposure to microbes helps to prevent allergies," says Dr. Andrew MacGinnitie, Clinical Director of Immunology Department at Boston Children's Hospital.

But the study has weaknesses, MacGinnitie said. It has a small sample size that makes it difficult to draw too many conclusions, and other factors than the mother's saliva could have helped to develop the children's immune system.

"It is possible to suck on a nap is correlated with other important factors that predispose or protect against allergens," he says, adding that mothers sucking their children's pacifiers can also "let their children play in the dirt or the whole house may be less clean. "

Uncertainty about causal relationship is why Abou-Jaoude does not recommend that parents start to suck on their children's pacifiers than yet.

"It is very important to realize that this was not a cause and effect study," she said. "This does not say, if you suck on your child's pacifier, they will not develop allergies."

However, for those who choose to do that, MacGinnitie does not see too many risks. "If the child was ill, he or she could transfer an infection to mother or father, but if the child is good then it seems unlikely," he said.

And although the nap falls on the floor, he added, "In general, the bacteria and the virus on the floor do not cause diseases."

In order to determine allergy risks, researchers searched for a protein that was associated with allergies. The traced levels of that protein, the IgE antibody, in 74 infants whose mothers reported using pacifiers. No fathers were included in the research.

Only nine children had mothers who sucked their children's binkies clean. However, compared to the other children, the nine children had significantly lower levels of IgE antibodies, a trend that began when the children were about 10 months old.

The researchers tracked the children for only 18 months, making it unclear whether lower IgE levels in infants would translate into fewer allergies later in life.

"Based on these levels, you can not really tell what will happen to these children in the future," said Abou-Jaoude. "All we know is that people with allergies usually have higher levels of IgE antibodies. But that does not mean that if you have high IgE, you will definitely have allergies."

Our bodies develop antibodies to infections, but MacGinnitie says that IgE antibodies are often produced in response to harmless substances – that is why they are closely associated with allergies.

"Allergies are an inappropriate response from our immune system to see something harmless as dangerous," he said, leading to congestion, nasal congestion and other common symptoms.

The Abou-Jaoudes team looked at total IgE antibody levels, but researchers can also test for allergen-specific IgE levels and look at how sensitive a child may be to some subjects, such as eggs or dogs.

A 2013 study in Sweden did just that. Not only did researchers find that infants were less likely to have IgE antibodies to common allergens when their parents told their pacifiers, but they were also less likely to develop eczema and asthma when they were 18 months old.

"If I understand the paper and the figure correctly, [the new study] found lower IgE levels in children whose parents reported to suck their nappes, and this support supports our results, says Dr. Bill Hesselmar, pediatric teacher at the University of Gothenburg, who wrote that study.

In both cases, Hesselmar says sucking on a child's pacifier may have transmitted "microbes that can stimulate the immune system to develop tolerance instead of allergy."

Still, there are more practical – and perhaps nicer – ways to prevent allergies in children. MacGinnitie said that early exposure to certain foods, for example, can protect against allergies.

Studies have shown that "children introduced into peanuts during the first year of life have a much lower chance of developing a peanut allergy," he said and the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. By 2017, the group began to approve guidelines recommending that children with high risk of allergies start eating peanuts as early as 4 to 6 months.

Children who grow up with pets also tend to have a lower allergy, said MacGinnitie, but it can be explained by genetics. In other words, allergy-free parents who own pets can only be born to allergy-sensitive children.

"Living on a small farm probably also helps," laughed MacGinnitie. But he allowed it, for most parents, "it's probably not realistic."

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