- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
- Family removed from Southwest flight over tweet about rude agent, dad says
- Michael Bloomberg thumbs FAA ban, plots course to Israel
- California bans full-contact football practices in off-season
- Thune: Downed fighter jets show more evidence of separatist capabilities
- Obama tells DNC fundraising crowd: ‘I’m not overly partisan’
- Chambliss: Downed jet ultimately goes back to Putin
- Perdue strategy: Run against Reid, Obama, Pelosi
- White House: More changes to contraception mandate coming
- ‘Operation Normandy’ set to send 3,500 volunteers to border to ‘stop an invasion’
Excessive cleanliness may boost allergies
Question of the Day
Put away the hand sanitizer. It’s not necessarily the grime, dust bunnies, cat dander or pollen causing those miserable springtime allergies. The culprit actually may be too much cleanliness.
“Allergies have become widespread in developed countries: hay fever, eczema, hives and asthma are all increasingly prevalent. The reason? Excessive cleanliness is to blame,” said Dr. Guy Delespesse, an immunologist and director of the Allergy Research Laboratory at the University of Montreal.
The school released new findings on the topic Wednesday.
While family history, air pollution, processed foods, stress and other factors can trigger allergic reactions, Dr. Delespesse is concerned by “our limited exposure to bacteria” — even cautioning parents to lighten up when their children drop toys on the floor.
“There is an inverse relationship between the level of hygiene and the incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases,” he said. “The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime.”
The sneezing, itching and coughing is widespread.
Some 50 million Americans suffer from allergic conditions and the numbers are increasing, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The cost of treating allergies and asthma stands at about $32 billion a year. And there is much misery: 60 percent of allergy sufferers say they were unable to find ways to stamp out the seasonal ills, according to a survey released this week by Consumer Reports National Research Center.
Dr. Delespesse also frets about the burgeoning allergic population. He noted that 10 percent of people in developed countries suffered from allergies two decades ago. Today, the percentage has increased threefold to 30 percent, with one in 10 children suffering from asthma. Deaths from that condition are also increasing, he said.
“It’s not just the prevalence but the gravity of the cases,” Dr. Delespesse added.
Well-intentioned hygiene can backfire, particularly with youngsters.
“The bacteria in our digestive system are essential to digestion and also serve to educate our immune system. They teach it how to react to strange substances,” Dr. Delespesse explained. “This remains a key in the development of a child’s immune system.”
Cleanliness does reduce our exposure to harmful bacteria, he said. But it also limits our exposure to beneficial microorganisms. As a result, the bacterial flora of our digestive system isn’t as “rich and diversified” as it used to be in less-paranoid times.
As a homestyle panacea, Dr. Delespesse recommends yogurt — which contains its own spate of microorganisms, or probiotics — “to enrich intestinal flora,” and consequently the immune system itself.
“Consuming probiotics during pregnancy could help reduce allergies in the child,” he said, adding that some studies found that women who ate yogurt in the last third of their pregnancy may reduce the impact of allergies during the first two years of their childs life by 50 percent.
“Probiotics are not a miracle remedy, yet they are one of many elements that improve our diet and our health,” he said.
About the Author
- It's grim: 911 Commission warns terrorism has entered 'a new and dangerous phase'
- Rick Perry: County jails in Texas have taken in 203,000 'criminal aliens'
- Inside the Beltway: The evolving White House deflection strategy
- Inside the Beltway: White House fundraising — never a dull moment
- Poll: 81 percent of U.S. voters believe Russia 'involved' in downed Malaysian airliner
Latest Blog Entries
- A startling 20 percent of Democratic lawmakers already endorse Hillary Clinton for president
- Hey food police: calling obesity a 'disease' is actually a health risk
- Cheese and an 'enhanced experience': White House goes showbiz on the State of the Union address
- Cruz calls it a 'circus': the State of the Union spectacle begins
- Half of American fans say God and 'supernatural' forces are in play during sports events
TWT Video Picks
Retailer pays a price for getting too close to Obama
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down
- HURT: The cost of 'free' water in Detroit
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- DEACE: How to go from civil rights icon to bigot in one quote
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq