Keeping things too clean around the house could be making your children sick. A new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that maintaining too high a level of hygiene and cleanliness can actually cause newborn babies, and particularly those under one year of age, to suffer from allergies and asthma later in life.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Maryland looked at 467 inner-city newborns from Baltimore, Boston, New York City and St. Louis. The babies were enrolled in the study before they were even born, and their health was monitored throughout the course of both pregnancy and birth to attain thorough data.
For the study, researchers collected allergen samples from the homes of each of the babies and measured both the amounts and types of allergens found. They then looked at incidences of allergy and asthma among the infants during their first few years of life, comparing this data to levels of exposure to potential allergens.
Upon analysis, the team observed lower rates of wheezing among children at age three who were exposed to high amounts of mouse and cat dander, as well as cockroach droppings, during their first year of life. In other words, early exposure to these allergens helped build a tolerance in the exposed children compared to those who were sheltered from the germs.
More than half of all children who grow up in "clean" homes with very few germs suffer from wheezing as toddlers. At the same time, only 17 percent of children from dirtier homes develop the condition, illustrating the sometimes beneficial role that bacteria and other germs can play in building strong immunity.
"The combination of both -- having the allergen exposure and the bacterial exposure -- appeared to be the most protective," stated Dr. Robert Wood, co-author of the study and chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Johns Hopkins.
Germs are nature's vaccines
The findings support those of earlier studies linking exposure to outdoor pathogens -- that is, the critters and crud lurking in your garden -- to decreased inflammation and stronger immunity. One study published several years ago in the journal Nature Medicine, for instance, found that being too clean can cause children to develop health problems.
Children need to spend more time outdoors getting dirty, in other words. If they don't, their chances of health success are diminished, at least according to science. Germs are essentially nature's vaccines, gradually training the innate immune system how to react properly to the many foreign substances that it will encounter throughout life.
In fact, this is exactly how the body is supposed to build immunity -- through natural exposure to things during early immune development. The chemical vaccines peddled by the pharmaceutical industry mimic this process to some degree, but as we've pointed out in previous articles, they bypass the innate immune system and elicit an unnatural and oftentimes damaging immune response.
"[T]he route of entry [for vaccines] is different [from] a naturally occurring disease," explains the Vaccine Awareness Network. "Most natural diseases would enter through the mouth or the nasal cavity, not the skin.
"Vaccination breaks the skin with a needle and injects foreign matter into the blood supply.
"This bypasses the skin's role in immune function, as well as the tonsils, the mucous membranes, and so on."
What does all this have to do with germ exposure? The answer is simple: Germs and bacteria are meant to be encountered naturally, and avoiding them can leave the body more susceptible to disease.
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