The researchers tested their hypothesis by following 184 babies and their moms for three years, testing them for allergies at 18 months and 36 months. Toddlers were 63 percent less likely to have eczema at 18 months if their parents had sucked on their pacifier, and 88 percent less likely to have asthma.
At 36 months, there was no difference between the two groups for asthma rates, but a 49 percent lower rate of eczema for the kids whose parents sucked on their pacifier remained.
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Lead researcher Dr. Bill Hesselmar stopped short of recommending the practice, however.
"It's always hard to tell if it's the only explanation, but we have tried to analyze as many other possibilities as we can think of," he told Reuters.
Image: Kevin Fletcher/Corbis