Exposing children to germs is a dangerous myth, report

Exposing children to germs is a dangerous myth, report
The concept that too much cleanliness can be bad for your health and that children need to be exposed to germs is a dangerous myth, Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), an independent health education charity operating in UK, reported recently.

The public health body (RSPH) in its study stated that the hygiene hypothesis that allergies are caused by too much cleanliness is being misinterpreted.

Playing outside in the dirt is certainly a healthy activity as it exposes children to good bacteria, the RSPH stressed, but it is extremely vital that they wash their hands before eating and after going to the toilet.

“The time has come when we need to sort this one out,” said Sally Bloomfield, the honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine additionally stating that the public is becoming very confused about this notion.

Grubbing around outside and playing with animals was important for building a robust immune system, the study said, but cleanliness still really mattered when people were preparing food and before eating it.

At a time when antibiotic resistance is on the rise and the National Health Service (NHS) is under pressure, it is more important than ever to try to stop infections, says the study.

Around one in four people get an infectious intestinal disease every year. Adults get four to six colds every year and children pick up six to eight. The report said hand washing and hygiene could stop the spread.


According to the survey, men were more likely than women to think that hygiene was not essential. They were more than twice as likely as women to think there was low or no risk associated with not washing hands with soap after using the toilet (16% vs 7%) or after handling raw meat (8% vs 4%).

In the wake of its study RSPH is calling for targeted hygiene where it stresses upon the importance of cleaning food preparation surfaces and washing dishcloths.

Most crucial is hand washing which must be done after visiting the toilet, playing with or caring for pets, after coughing, before and after preparing food and sneezing or nose-blowing, said the report.

The RSPH concluded by emphasizing upon the idea that children should be taught in school about targeted hygiene. The public health body also urged media organizations to play a productive role in creating awareness on the issue.