If you’re a parent, you likely spend an inordinate amount of time trying to keep germs off of and away from your kids. But, believe it or not, you may be able to relax a bit. In fact, encountering common germs, such as certain bacteria, common colds, certain fungus and some viruses, during childhood can actually help strengthen immune function, in turn preventing future disease.
Dr. Smith want parents to know about the hygiene hypothesis. Its message is simple: Exposure to some pathogens (disease causing agents) and allergens can help make children healthier.
The hygiene hypothesis is based on a deeper understanding of the immune system’s purpose and function. The immune system does not come pre-programmed; it evolves to protect against disease-causing processes.
Between birth and preteen years, the immune system “learns” how to react to everything it encounters. Repeated exposure to some pathogens and allergens helps train and strengthen a developing immune system.
Of course, Dr.Smith isn’t suggesting that you live in squalor or expose your children to all pathogens, as some, such as carcinogens, should always be avoided. However, a few small tweaks to your lifestyle may do wonders to help boost your youngsters immune system.