Are you keeping things too clean for your kids' good? Show Notes

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 Host(s): Dr. Bill Maier
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Are parents keeping things too clean for their kids' good?

Numerous research studies on children’s health seem to suggest that we’ve gone overboard when it comes to protecting our kids from germs

In a recent WebMD article, Lisa Zamosky reports that allowing infants to be exposed to normal, everyday germs may offer them greater protection from allergies and illnesses later on in life.

According to something called the "hygiene hypothesis," when exposure to parasites, bacteria, and viruses is limited early in life, children face a greater chance of having allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases during adulthood.

Just as a baby's brain needs stimulation, input, and interaction to develop normally, the WebMD story points out the young immune system is strengthened by exposure to everyday germs. That allows it to learn, adapt, and regulate itself,

Exactly which germs seem to do the trick hasn't yet been confirmed. But new research offers clues.

Dr. Thom McDade at Northwestern University found that children who were exposed to animals on farms before the age of 2 had less incidence of inflammation in the body as they grew into adulthood.

Inflammation has been linked to many chronic adulthood illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.

McDade says. "Microbial exposures early in life may be important… to keep inflammation in check in adulthood."

I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.

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