The link between a pacifier and allergies has been researched in the past. Environmental microbial exposure plays a role in the immune system and the development and susceptibility to food allergy.

Gut microbiome in food allergy

A recent study sought to investigate whether infant pacifier use during the first year alters the risk of food allergy by 1 year.

The findings of the study showed that persistent and repeated antiseptic used over the first 6 months was associated with higher odds of food allergy.

The risk of food allergy was highest with using an antiseptic, followed by no sanitization, cleaning with tap water, boiling water, and the least risk was with cleaning it with the parents mouth.

Food allergy usually commences in infancy, but prevention methods are not well understood. Various microbial exposures including vaginal births, siblings, dog ownership have been associated with a decreased risk of food allergy.

Pacifiers are commonly used in infancy and are another source of microbial exposure early in life. A Swedish study showed potential benefits in infants whose parents sucked their pacifier (used their own mouth to clean it) had reduced food sensitization, asthma and eczema compared with infants whose parents used other cleaning methods.

The authors in the present study hypothesized that the chemicals in the antiseptic may be the component causing the higher food allergy risk. The chemicals in the antiseptic could alter the oral microbial flora, because a different microbial pattern has been demonstrated for infants with pacifiers cleaned by antiseptics compared with parental sucking. Another possibility could be pacifier-antiseptic increases plasticizers leaching from the pacifier and therefore increases infant exposure to plastic substances previously linked to allergic diseases in other studies.

In other countries pacifier use is not actively encouraged, however in the United States from 1 month onward it is recommended to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. Importantly, pacifier use has not been shown to affect breast-feeding duration.

So in terms of a pacifier and allergies, pacifiers sanitized with antiseptic agents was a risk factor for food allergy.


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