An Australian research team have found infants whose pacifiers, or dummies, were sterilised with an antiseptic solution were more likely to have a diagnosed food allergy at the age of one. The risk appears to be entirely connected to the use of chemical sanitisers, as there was no increased risk of food allergy for the children whose dummies were boiled in water, washed under the tap, put in a parent’s mouth, or not washed at all.
The Barwon Infant Study compared dummy use and cleaning methods among infants at six months of age and those with a confirmed food allergy at one year of age in more than 700 participants. In addition to the link between food allergy and chemical antiseptics, researchers also found evidence of a dose-related response: The more persistent and repeated use of antiseptic cleaning over the first 6 months, the higher the food allergy risk.
While the mechanism underlying the link is unknown, these findings may support the growing recognition of the role of good bacteria in the mouth and gut in preventing the development of food allergy.
Reference: Soriano et al. 2021. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Additional information about the research can be found in a media release on the Barwon Health website, and the paper can be downloaded with Open Access.