Germ warfare is damaging our kids!
Parents who worry too much about keeping their house – and families – clean, are risking their children’s health. According to a new survey many parents are “obsessed” with keeping their children in a “sterile bubble”, but it is actually vital that youngsters are exposed to some bacteria. The Supernanny team explains why...
Not all bacteria are bad!
The research, which was carried out by ICM, found that six out of ten people believe that children should be protected from all bacteria, while 73 percent believe it’s important to protect yourselves against bacteria and bacterial infections with anti-bacterial products. But always using anti-bacterial wipes and anti-bacterial soap can actually be harmful – particularly for young children. It can prevent their immature immune systems from developing properly.
"With the huge media attention around dangerous bacteria such as MRSA, the marketing hype pushing total annihilation of bacteria via wipes or sprays, coupled with the dangerous reliance on antibiotics for almost any infection, there is a real concern that we are misunderstanding bacteria and the vital role some bacteria can play in our overall health and well-being and development of our young," said Professor Ken Jones, an immunologist at Cardiff School of Health Sciences.
The Playstation generation no longer play outside with plenty of other kids as they used to. We live in smaller families and in less rural locations. All these factors mean children are less exposed to the variety of bacteria they used to be, which is crucial to the development of the immune system.
Many people don’t seem to understand that bacteria can be beneficial as well as harmful. The survey – which was carried out for the probiotic firm Yakult – revealed that nearly half those asked (42 percent) thought that society’s health would improve if all bacteria were eradicated. But such “germ warfare” can actually be damaging, as we need strong immune systems to protect us from many diseases and infections, including common coughs and colds.
What’s important is to have a balance between cleanliness and obsession. Children should be encouraged to play outside and get mucky – but wash their hands afterwards!
Professor Jones also said that he believed the use of antibiotics should be limited, especially within the first year of a child's life.
"There is a reason your doctor does not immediately prescribe antibiotics and you shouldn't pressurise them to do so," he said. "If you or your children do have to take antibiotics, then it is important to restore the balance of good bacteria." He added that taking a daily probiotic might also help to boost the immune system.
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