Children’s Exposure to Bacteria

Is the pursuit of a bacteria-free world making us sick? The rising incidence of asthma and allergies in the developed world could be tied to the relatively sterile environments our children live in compared to a generation ago. Children are not exposed to harmful bacteria and consequently are given antibiotics to kill bacteria, do not receive the germ exposure required to make antibodies. More specifically, they do not develop T-helper cells, which fight foreign cellular invaders and minimize allergies.

For several years scientists have been uncovering signs that illness can result when the immune system does not get enough practice fighting bacteria and viruses. Several epidemiological and experimental studies have put this hypothesis on firm ground. Although it had been thought that the immune system required periodic infections during childhood, researchers now argue that the main problem is that the children have become squeaky clean. They suspect that children need contact not with disease-causing microbes, but with bacteria in soil and untreated water, particularly with organisms called mycobacteria, to strengthen their immune system.

The continuing rise in allergies coincides with the acceptance and use of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, the ultimate in excessive cleaning. Antibacterial soaps are applied to the hands and bodies in the shower or during hand washing with warm water, allowing them to easily enter the body while pores are open. There is gathering evidence that these anti-bacterial ingredients are also carcinogenic. Washing hands the old fashioned way, with regular soap and water will send the bacteria down the drain and no harmful substances enter the body’s bloodstream. Read more….

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