Should you lick your baby’s dropped pacifier?

By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By 4028mdk09 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A story on the May 6th NPR program, Morning Edition, “Parents’ Saliva On Pacifiers Could Ward Off Baby’s Allergies” features a focus on the human microbiome, partental behavior and babies’ allergies.

“That word “microbiome” – describing the collection of bacteria that live in and on our bodies – keeps popping up. This time, researchers say that children whose parents clean their pacifiers by sucking them might be less likely to develop allergic conditions because of how their parents’ saliva changes their microbiomes.”

The NPR story is based on a small Swedish study of 184 Swedish babies. The story was based on an article published in this week’s issue of the journal Pediatrics. 65 babies whose mother or father sucked on their babies’ dropped pacifiers to clean them were reportedly far less likely to get eczema and asthma than babies whose parents did not clean dropped pacifiers by licking them. has abundant posts on the human microbiome, viewable as a search result here.

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Hal Levin

Hal Levin is a research architect and leads the Building Ecology Research Group in Santa Cruz, CA.