A surprising new study delved into why children form food allergies, and whether parents can do anything to prevent these annoying and sometimes deadly conditions.
But the answer researchers uncovered is unusual to say the least: their report says a mother’s saliva can encourage her baby not to develop allergies.
The study by the Henry Ford Health System, which was presented last weekend to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, compared how a group of mothers cleaned their child’s pacifier.
When a mother sucked on her baby’s pacifier - as opposed to sterilizing or washing it - researchers found that her baby had lower levels of a protein thought to cause allergies.
The finding may sound strange, but it’s actually just the latest piece of research to link allergies and bacteria together.
Past studies showed that children who grow up near livestock - including Amish children - were less likely to develop allergies.
Another pointed out that children born via C-section are less likely to have allergies than children born "naturally" (which involves more exposure to bacteria).
These studies, and more, seem to prove the bacteria and microbes children are exposed to influence whether or not they develop allergies.
Still, other experts point out a number of flaws in the latest study - including a small sample size and no direct connection between the protein levels and whether children actually developed allergies (a later study with the same group will track that).
Some also point out that sharing a pacifier with your baby could pass on harmful germs to them.
If the thought of putting a dirty soother in your mouth revolts you, there are other scientifically proven, but less disgusting ways to prevent allergies.
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed a study which showed that exposing newborns to peanuts in small amounts during their first year drastically lowered their chance of developing an allergy.
The group’s guidelines say that children as young as four months old can start eating small amounts of peanut butter, in the hope of building an immunity to allergens.
But because genetics may play a part in who gets allergies and who doesn’t, you should not count on any method to keep your child allergy-free.