This post raises an interesting question about germs and the fact that we tend to treat all with utter disgust; attempting to eliminate all germs.
The post points out that presenting too aseptic an environment to our children to grow up in is perhaps not the best thing to do; this perhaps hampers immunity. Strange as it may sound, too much cleanliness could actually be counterproductive and could trigger the body’s immune response, thereby increasing allergic reactions to a number of innocuous stimuli.
David P. Strachan propounded the Hygiene Hypothesis 20 years ago. It was his view that it is just this absence of early exposure to germs that is responsible for later development of allergies. It is also exposure to other and older children and the germs that they may be carrying that could build up a child’s immunity.
This theory is borne out by observations made with regard to children who start daycare earlier in life who were seen to have fewer allergies due to the fact that their exposure to other children was earlier and more.
This hygiene hypothesis of course is seen to be ineffective in several cases. For instance many allergies are seen to have a genetic component and many allergies are present even in the presence of germs.
There is still much that we don’t understand about allergies so there is no need to stop dusting our houses or throw away the disinfectants and hand sanitizers just yet.