Dummies and allergies: what’s the link?

Dummies and allergies

Dummies and allergies: what’s the link?

As a parent, you’re probably already keenly aware of germs and dirt coming into contact with your child. In our clean-conscious culture, we want to ensure our children don’t contract anything potentially harmful.

Picture the scenario: your little angel is in a devilish mood. After the toys and the drink the,y resort to throwing their dummy on the floor. You go to pick it up, and you do one of two things. You clean it under the tap or with a wipe, or you stick it in your mouth.

If that second option sounds wrong or unhealthy, you might want to think again. Some studies suggest that this might be one way to reduce the risk of allergies later in your child’s life.


A study of 128 women recorded preferred methods of cleaning dummies. Allergist Dr Eliane Abou-Jaoude, MD, ACAAI member, was a lead author on the study conducted by Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Only 12% of those mums reportedly cleaned it with their own mouths. Interestingly, the study found that these children had lower levels of IgE.

IgE is an antibody in the body that is responsible for allergic responses. Higher IgE means that your child is more likely to develop allergies and conditions such as asthma. Of the 41% who sterilised the dummies and the 72% who used soap and water to clean them, it was found to have a negligible effect on the IgE levels in their children.

How does it work?

One explanation for this is that by not thoroughly cleaning the dummy, microorganisms that help with the development of the immune system remain, which in turns helps to protect against allergies later in life.

However, we recommend taking this study with a pinch of salt as far more research is required. You should still clean any dummies thoroughly if it has come into contact with bacteria or dirt. There are no adverse effects if you do, whereas the same can’t necessarily be said for cleaning it in your own mouth.

Allergies are a serious health problem, and whether or not we are one day able to lower IgE levels, allergy tests are critical. Food allergies alone affect 3-6% of children in the UK.

We highly recommend allergy tests as early on as possible to avoid symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and swelling of the mouth. In serious cases, there is also a risk of anaphylaxis. It’s critical to have your child tested for allergies if yourself or other family members have allergies or a condition such as eczema or asthma as this is a sign that your child is more likely to have it too.

At the London Allergy & Immunology Centre, we can help to identify allergy triggers your child might suffer from. Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your child. If you want to read more about the study mentioned in this blog, please click here.

Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved