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Are Germs Good for Kids?

Kids have a tendency to put all sorts of things in their mouths and play in the dirt, and parents have a tendency to stop them from doing that. The concern is that kids will encounter germs and become ill, but you might have heard that some contact with germs is good for kids. After all, how else will they build up their immune systems?

Immunity is built from contact with something dangerous, and if your kids encounter germs when they are very healthy and robust, they are less likely to become seriously ill when they encounter the same germs later on. There are so many germs and bacteria as well, that it makes sense to let kids interact with them often so that they can build up proper immunity. But does this idea of immunity building through germ contact mean that germs are good for our kids?

More Diseases or Fewer?

Something called the Hygiene Hypothesis says that kids who are often exposed to bacteria and other contaminants at a young age will more frequently develop allergies, asthma, and other health problems in their adult years. This nation has kept many parents from allowing their kids to play in the dirt, spend a lot of time outside, and interact with items that could be unsanitary.

However, research into this hypothesis shows a very different outcome. When the data is taken from farm-raised kids who interact often with germs of all kinds, the results are very interesting. These kids demonstrate a lower frequency of allergies, asthma and other health problems later on in life compared to their urban counterparts. If the Hygiene Hypothesis were correct, then kids who grow up on farms would be riddled with far more health issues than kids who are raised in environments where there is much less contact with germs and bacteria.

How Clean Is Too Clean?

Does this research then imply that you should not clean your home? Does it perhaps suggest that our homes should not be overly clean?

Choosing house cleaning in the San Francisco area does not make you a bad parent. A clean home is one with less bacteria and germs, yes, but it is also a home with fewer pests, allergens, and irritants. An untidy home may have high levels of dust, which can be irritating to your children and make it difficult for them to sleep well at night. When you tidy your home, you are not just getting rid of bacteria but also many things that affect your child’s health and that don’t provide anything to help their immune system grow stronger.

In fact, if your child is constantly exposed to high levels of dust and pest droppings, they may suffer continuous poor health and have trouble getting their immune systems to protect them properly. You can have kids with healthy immune systems living in a clean home, and you don’t have to worry that you are cleaning too much, but you do have to be careful about some factors relating to cleaning.

In particular, you should be cautious about the kind of cleaning agents you use. Some of them contain toxins that may not harm you much but could be easily absorbed into your child’s skin. Remember that your kid will be crawling on the floor and putting their hands and mouth where you will not, so they can ingest and absorb cleaning chemical toxins much more easily than you. That is one area of home cleaning where you should exercise caution, and you should consider using gentle cleaners that won’t leave behind a toxic residue.

Your Kids and Germs

The problem our kids face today that causes them to have weak immune systems is that they are rarely allowed to come into contact with germs. They are kept overly safe and overly guarded and are never given the opportunity to develop a healthy defence against many kinds of germs and bacteria. Parents tend to be overprotective and pull their kids away from anything that could make them dirty or have germs on it. This is not always necessary, and if we just allow kids to be kids and to play down on the floor and outdoors sometimes, that will be excellent for their immune systems.

Of course, there are times where you want to be extra careful with your kids and keep them from any kind of contaminants. That would be mostly when your kids are sick. If they have any kind of illness, their immune system is already being taxed. Adding another harmful set of germs or bacteria to throw at their immune system might not be wise. You should protect your kids when they are sick and keep them in a safe and clean place. Their immune system is already hard at work and could easily be overtaxed. You don’t want them to become sicker.

Early Exposure Can Be Beneficial

Ideas about children and germs are changing. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, kids were exposed to germs frequently and allowed to play outside at a young age, often sitting in the grass or dirt. Many parents thought that was natural and that kids learned toughness this way. They wanted their kids to interact with nature.

In later decades, especially in the early 2000s, kids started to spend much more time indoors. This was partly due to urbanisation and partly because more children’s activities were designed for the indoors. Parents became more concerned about germs and their impact on children to the point that they started overprotecting them.

As a result, we have seen a drastic rise in childhood illnesses, allergies, and sensitivities. Much of our current generation is weaker and less tolerant to germs and bacteria than the generation preceding it. There is a case to be made for early germ exposure for kids and the benefit it has on their immune system. Keep this in mind the next time you think of pulling your kids away from the dirt or wondering if it is safe to let them play in the grass.