Monday, October 26, 2009
Hygiene Hypothesis & Asthma: Dirty Is Better
As you may have heard before, 23 million Americans have asthma and the number seems to continue to be getting bigger. One thought as to why this is called the hygiene hypothesis.
The hygiene hypothesis suggests that our super clean world deprives our immune system of the ability to distinguish between harmless and potentially harmful irritants.
Supporters of the hygiene hypothesis point to research that shows children growing up on farms develop less asthma and allergic disease than kids growing up in cities. These children are exposed to more germs, specifically a component of germs called endotoxins. These endotoxins stimulate your child's immune system and decrease overall inflammation related to allergy.
There are other competing theories and potential causes of the increase in asthma. Some research has pointed to the use of antibiotics and acetaminophen in early life may contribute. While others have pointed to obesity or low vitamin D levels as possible contributors.
While the exact reason for worsening asthma is not known, look at your muddy, smelly children returning form the play ground and think that maybe that activity was important for their overall health and well being.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology A Little Dirt May Be Good For Your Kids