As a responsible parent you will feel duty bound to keep your children as safe as possible. There are many ways in which you may do this, and one way is to keep everything as clean as possible. However, by creating a clean and sterile environment you may actually be doing your child a disservice, in fact, it may cause them greater harm in the long run according to a germ expert.
Professor Jack Gilbert is the Director of the Microbiome Centre at the University of Chicago and is the co-author of “Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System”. In it he claims “Most parents think all germs are bad, that is not true. Most will just stimulate your immune system and make you stronger.”
And this is the foundation of his entire argument, that exposure to dirt, and a lot of things most people would consider unsanitary, are actually beneficial.
He states a few examples, such as when children play in the garden is it not necessary to sanitise their hands before they touch their faces. And people often try and separate pets and children for sanitary reasons, however Prof Gilbert claims that there is nothing wrong with a dog licking a child’s face. He goes so far to say that even human excrement is not so unsanitary that you should panic if a child comes into contact with it.
He summarises by saying that in a normal household, as long as nobody is currently ill, then thanks to general sanitation and vaccinations, it is a perfectly safe environment for a child to be in.
In reality, creating a sterilized environment can have a detrimental effect on your child’s health in the long term. This is because they will develop a hyper-sensitive immune system and could suffer from issues such as allergies and asthma in the future.
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