ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta/AP) – The findings of a new study show that, if parents wish to protect their children from developing allergies, they should suck on their pacifiers.

The researchers, who are based on Sweden, allegedly found that the bacteria transferred from the mouth of the parent to that of the child during the practice helps their immune systems learn which non-threatening germs to ignore.

Local experts noted the merit in the research team’s logic.

“The immune system’s purpose is to differentiate between harmless and harmful,” Dr. Ron Ferdman, a pediatric allergist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who was not involved in the study, told Health magazine. “If your immune system is not presented with enough microbes, it just defaults to doing harmful attacks against things that are not harmful, like food, cat dander or dust mites.”

Those involved in the study — published in the journal Pediatrics — reportedly recruited 206 pregnant women and 187 infants to participate in the study. Families with an allergic parent were targeted by the team of researchers.

The DNA of the saliva from 33 participating infants was then fingerprinted. Of that portion, 21 had a parent who sucked on their pacifiers for the study, Health magazine found. All of the subjects were then followed and studied until they reached 18 months of age.

This study comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that parents reported more skin and food allergies in their children.

The CDC survey suggests that about 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies. That’s a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s. For eczema and other skin allergies, it’s 1 in 8 children, an increase of 69 percent. It found no increase, however, in hay fever or other respiratory allergies.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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