You can never be too careful when you want to provide your child with a good quality of life. And perhaps this is why parents nowadays tend to freak around every possible nuisance that could potentially harm their child.
The question is, how careful should we really be and what does it mean to be careful? Most parents would agree that caring for the safety of their child means keeping them out of harm’s way in every possible way.
And this includes what has become our obsession to hyper-sanitize everything they touch – from the floors they walk on, to the playgrounds we bring them to. It seems that our obsession with germs has finally got the best of us.
In fact, parents are ready to go to such extents as to pay extra money for germ-free entertainment centers and deny them from playing in the dirt like kids used to do since forever. They buy expensive sterilizers, sanitizers, antibacterial soaps, and even give their children liberal doses of antibiotics (just to be on the safe side?).
However, microbiologists suggest that this is, in fact, the worst we can do for their health. Marie-Claire Arrieta, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, and esteemed microbiologist Brett Finlay are the authors of a book called Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Our Children from an Oversanitized World.
Concerned about the negative effects over-sanitization can have on the child’s health, the authors explain that microbes are essential to the creation of our immune system and that they shouldn’t be eliminated.
In an interview with The Star, Arietta explains that microbes kick-start the immune system of the newborn’s otherwise germ-free body. By producing molecules and substances that interact with the cells in our guts and with the immune cells on the other side of the lining, the germs “literally train them” to respond adequately to the presence of germs.
In the absence of these very necessary germs, our immune system cells wouldn’t have the necessary information to do their job, and would thus be unprepared when more harmful germs enter the body.
Research shows that our efforts to eliminate the germs from our children’s lives have been correlated with the rise of allergies, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and even autism. And this is simply due to the lack of training our immune system receives because of the elimination of germs early in life.
Arietta notes that some studies have even found that by cleaning everything that goes into your baby’s mouth, you increase their chances of asthma. “The incidence of developing asthma is decreased if the pacifier is cleaned in the parent’s mouth.”
All this, of course, doesn’t mean that you should put a spoonful of mud in their breakfast. Regular hygiene is essential: “We should not stop washing our hands, but we should do it at a time when it is effective at preventing disease spread — before we eat and after using the restroom. Any other time it is not necessary,” Arietta explains.
Don’t be too afraid to let your baby play with your dog, or your child to play in the dirt and get all muddy. In fact, encourage them to spend more time outside and be in touch with the natural ecosystem that they need to create in their bodies.
Our bodies need germs to function properly, and eliminating the same means eliminating an essential part of our natural way of functioning. Don’t give your child antibiotics unless prescribed by their GP; don’t buy antibacterial soaps (a regular one will do); and remember that dirt can be healthy!
Spread the awareness!
Source: The Star
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.