Your Health: Germ exposure and allergies
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It’s been called the “hygiene hypothesis” – all the scrubbing and wiping we do to keep germs at bay may instead interrupt the body’s natural defense systems.
The research continues to look for a definitive link between the increase in allergies and the increase in anti-bacterial cleaning, but some experts believe the lack of exposure to germs may leave children at higher risk for developing asthma, allergies and other allergic conditions.
“What we’re seeing right now is definitely an uptick in both food and environmental allergies,” said Dr. Stephen Dinetz. “The hygiene hypothesis is a theory that with cleaner environments and antibacterial soaps, we are not getting exposed to the appropriate levels of allergens in the environment.”
That means children’s systems don’t have a chance to fight germs and build immunity. But is there a link between anti-bacterial cleaning, especially during COVID, and kids’ desensitization to germs and allergens?
Dinetz said parents should let kids be kids and not allow a fear of germs to keep them from playing and interacting with others.
In addition to research in the U.S., Canadian researchers are studying the impact of the hygiene hypothesis during COVID on the human microbiome – the micro-organisms that live on the skin and in the gut – to determine if a decrease in the microbiome played a part in COVID infection. According to the CDC, the rate of food allergies has increased by 50 percent since 1997. Environmental allergies have been harder to track.
More: Health stories
Subscribe to our News 10 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning.
Copyright 2022 WILX. All rights reserved.