Thursday, December 31, 2009

Get Your Kids Dirty

I have always heard you shouldn't be excessive about avoiding germs with kids. They need to build up their immune systems. It makes sense considering younger kids seem to always have a runny nose. As they get older and build up their immunity to some viruses, they have fewer runny noses. I certainly don't expose my kids to anything "dangerous" on purpose. However, once in awhile we do go to what I call"germ fests" like McDonald's playland and Chuck E. Cheeses. How about you?

FROM CNN: Antibacterial gels and disinfectant wipes can help curb the spread of germs. But in today's Health Minute, Susan Hendricks has the details on a study that finds children who grow up in super-clean, sanitized environments may be at higher risk for heart disease as adults.

Kids getting dirty on the playground -- it's a time-honored tradition, but do you ever worry what kind of germs your child might pick up or put in their mouth? A new study suggests you shouldn't necessarily be concerned.
What we're finding has to do with the everyday pathogens you come in contact to-- germs in the environment, germs that you might encounter in dirt and in your household that might actually have some beneficial effects long-term.

Researcher Chris Kuzawa and his colleagues started following a group of Filipino children 26 years ago, and found that exposure to dirty environments early in life lowered production of c-reactive protein -- a substance that is known to increase heart attack risk later in life.

Why? There is a need for the immune system to have some kind of challenge and to
experience low-level pathogens within the environment. This is actually an important part of how the immune system develops. Encouraging findings, but Kuzawa says, we're a long way from encouraging people to go out and pick up germs. I think it would be very preliminary to ask parents to do anything differently with their kids based on what we found.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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