Common wisdom dictates that you should try to keep your baby away from shedding pets, rodents, roaches, and household bacteria. Not so fast, Mr. Clean — new research out of Johns Hopkins indicates that infants who are exposed to dander from pets and rodents, along with household bacteria and roach allergens (!) are less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma later in life.
Yep, you hear that right – being exposed to allergens at an early age actually helps kids develop immunity. Similar studies have found that kids who spend their initial hours in a very sterile environment have a greater risk of developing autoimmune issues like Crohn’s disease. In other words, yes, you can be too clean. And early exposure is key– according to the researchers, children who first encountered, say, roach allergens (ew ew ew) after the age of 1, they didn’t benefit from the protective effects of exposure.
“What this tells us is that not only are many of our immune responses shaped in the first year of life, but also that certain bacteria and allergens play an important role in stimulating and training the immune system to behave a certain way,” study author Robert Wood, chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, said according to the Hopkins Hub.
So should you scatter your spotless home with mouse dander and cockroach droppings? No, no you should not. But you might want to consider going easy on those Clorox wipes — at least if you want your kids to develop healthy immune systems.
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