Are Today's Kids Too Clean?
Not long ago, peanut butter and jelly was a lunch room staple, now it’s banned from many schools because so many kids are allergic.
The Centers for Disease Control reports the number of serious food allergies is up 18 percent in just the past decade.
Hay fever and asthma numbers are also way up, but why? It’s a question Jenn from Lowell wrote into our Curiosity Web site.
Some researchers say it may be because kids are too clean. Dr. Joel Weinstock of Tufts Medical Center says keeping kids too clean may actually put them at risk for disease.
“Our Immune system is there, but it’s like a blank computer with no software,” he said.
In order to program that software kids need to be exposed to bacteria, viruses even intestinal worms.
It’s a concept that didn’t sit well with some of the moms at a playgroup at Isis Maternity in Needham.
“As a mom, I fell like I’m supposed to be maintaining a standard of cleanliness,” one mom said.
But research shows all that hyper-cleanliness could put kids at risk for more than just allergies and asthma. Other possibilities include diabetes and multiple sclerosis. “Hygiene has made us healthier; we live longer,” Dr. Weinstock said. “But we may be paying a price for the benefits.”
Ads for cleaners suggest parents should be afraid of public bathrooms and even our own bathrooms. But, in fact the opposite may be true.
Kids who grow up in homes with a lot of bathrooms are actually more likely to develop these immunological diseases.
“So a child is in a crowded environment with lots of other kids using the same bathroom, they are exchanging germs or bacterial and perhaps, that’s a healthy thing,” Weinstock explained.
So according to Weinstock, the five second rule is fine, he’d even let it go 15 minutes or longer.
“Just maybe, allowing people to be a little dirtier, lowering our hygiene standards a little bit for our children may end up making them healthier rather than sicker,” he said.
Good germs vs. bad germs:
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