Lack of exposure to bugs hurts kids

  • 10/06/2014

By Andrew McMartin

Is over-cleaning your house a health risk? A new study says it may well be.

A group of scientists have looked at children's exposure to cats, mice, and even cockroaches in their first years of life and found that by the age of three they had built up a protective immunity.

Auckland University nanotechnology expert Michelle Dickinson says exposure to "nasties" such as dirt, bugs and bacteria can actually be quite good for children, especially when they're very young.

"Everything up to the first year of age in this study showed that if you can expose your children to all sorts of bugs and bacteria and nasties, it actually really helps to prevent their risk of developing allergies and asthma by the age of three."

The study looked at 467 children from birth to three years of age. Researchers went to the homes of each child, conducting environmental studies, taking swabs and "actually looked at what the children were exposed to", Ms Dickinson says.

"They found a strange combination of cat and mouse dander – so, the skin flakes off cats and mice – and cockroach droppings, were the precise combination you needed to maximise your resistance."      

And while it sounds gruesome, the research is being hailed as a "significant" discovery, with asthma affecting one in four children in New Zealand.

Ms Dicksinson says there's evidence over-sanitised environments may actually be harmful for children. 

"There's evidence we are actually increasing our allergies in children… it's actually good to expose your children to certain types of bacterias."

Watch the video for the full interview with Michelle Dickinson.

3 News

source: newshub archive