June 25, 2019

"The 'hygiene hypothesis' which became widely publicised in the 1990s argued that rising rates of allergies were being caused by 'overcleanliness'..."

"... suggesting children should be exposed to a wide range of potentially harmful microbes. But experts from the Royal Society today stressed this is not the case. They said people need diverse exposure to microbes that are mostly harmless - such as those children can find playing outdoors - but should remain vigilent [sic] about hygiene in the home.... A survey of 2,000 adults found that almost one in four people agreed with the statement 'hygiene in the home is not important because children need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune system'. More than half also mistakenly thought keeping homes too clean was damaging.... The survey also revealed 'substantial public confusion' about the relationship between cleanliness and hygiene, with 61 per cent believing dirty hands from outdoor play are likely to spread harmful germs, despite there being little evidence that outdoor dirt carries harmful microbes."

From Yahoo News.

I think everyone is clean about some things and dirty about others. The key seems to be to choose the right things to be clean about.

77 comments:

tim maguire said...

How do the germs know whether they are indoor or outdoor germs? Isn't it simply the case that most are harmless but some are not?

n.n said...

With a vaccine for allergies, you can have your clean room, and allergy resistance adaptation, too.

traditionalguy said...

The human Immune System is fearfully and wonderfully made. It continually makes defense to pathogens in great abundance.

I recommend An Elegant Defense by Matt Richtel. It is the latest science on this key to the human lifespan.

PJ said...

There's a missing harmonizer here -- it's fine to be hyper-vigilent [sic] about eliminating microbes in a child's home PROVIDED the child receives sufficient "diverse exposure to microbes" outside the home, such as through a regular regimen of "playing outdoors." It sounds as though the Royal Society might agree that children who lack "diverse exposure" altogether may be adversely affected.

Michael K said...

More "experts."

Jake said...

Rub some dirt in it.

jaydub said...

If that is the case then the kids growing up in LA, San Francisco and Seattle must be the healthiest in the country.

Nonapod said...

My guess is that our own internal microbiome is probably one of the main determining factors in things like the development of allegeries and asthma. We're only just beginning to grasp the complexities of the interactions between our immune systems, the various microorganisms that live upon and within us, and exogenous antigens from all sorts of stuff we're exposed to (everything from peanuts to pollen). Apparently all sorts of critters live on our skin, mammary glands, placenta, seminal fluid, uterus, ovarian follicles, lung, saliva, oral mucosa, conjunctiva, biliary and gastrointestinal tracts.

mockturtle said...

I don't know. Should we trust a source that doesn't know how to spell vigilant?

Caligula said...

The advice seems to be that it's good to be clean, but not too clean. A safe statement so long as one does not define "too clean," as it then becomes non-falsifiable.

This advice seems like Nietzsche's "That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger": "that which doesn't kill" needs to be strong enough, but not too strong, lest it maim.

Virgil Hilts said...

Obligatory Carlin link! - Carlin re Fear of Germs

Richard said...

Mostly Harmless. That's what Ford Prefect said about the Earth.

Michael said...

One of the things millennial bring to the table, is a sexual enthusiasm for eating azz. That's some serious immunity building.

pacwest said...

Eat dirt.

J. Farmer said...

More "experts."

Yep. How many deaths occur per year due to medical error?

traditionalguy said...

Richtel points out that allergies are an immune system over reacting to something.

The too much hygiene as we grow up hypothesis is an old one. Hay Fever was long noted to be an affliction of the high classes in London. The studies pinned it on not having older siblings to spread pathogen contacts for the Immune System to build up defenses.

The best advice now is to eat food picked up off the floor and pick your nose and eat it.This is a war.

The immune system needs something to do its powerful work on. Without it, the immune system starts going after your body.That means arthritis, and many terrible conditions, Mulitple Sclerosis.

Another famous virus plague attributed to the arrival of sanitary plumbing preventing an immune system encounter was Polio. Jonas Salk had to create a Vaccine that was safe and effective to make up for too much hygiene.

Fen said...

Wait another decade, they'll do another 180.

tcrosse said...

At Navy boot camp a Dental Technician told us that our mouth was dirtier than our asshole. Of course, my own mouth had been scrubbed out several times by my Mom, with Fels Naphtha.

AllenS said...

Have you ever noticed that kids like to eat dirt? Why do you think that is? I shall proffer that is because going back to the cave man living, that is how those children built up their immune systems, and that is still true today.

AllenS
Anthropologist

Fen said...

I don't know; I've always had a strong immune system and my 5 second rule has always been 10. "Strength Training" the immune system sounds right to me and dovetails with my life experience, but that's hardly scientific. Could just be good genes.

bagoh20 said...

But today's kid never leave the house unless they are going to another building. The only dirt they encounter is on the bottom of their shoes. "Experts" say that kids should lick the bottom of their shoes. Even better is lick other people's shoes.

bagoh20 said...

As a kid we spent endless hours playing in a creek that ran through town. It had numerous sewer and industrial pipes feeding into it. It was full of garbage and streaked with oils, but was also full of life and tons of fun. Today I'm not allergic to anything, and rarely get infections from cuts, scrapes, dog bites, or punctures. I've never even gotten an STD. Condoms are for punks. Splooge stooges unite!

bagoh20 said...

I think that good advice would be: You should not go out of your way to expose yourself, but fun is important.

Freeman Hunt said...

I overheard a woman today telling another woman that polio was not a virus but was caused by breathing in pesticides. Ha!

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I think the classic case is polio. Humans have been exposed to the polio virus since time immemorial, but teenagers and adults in rich countries were fairly suddenly caught up in terrible epidemics in the twentieth century. I believe it was established that if babies are exposed, it is usually harmless, and the later in life you are exposed, the worse it is. People were keeping babies so clean, there was no exposure to the polio virus until it was (so to speak) too late.

What about asthma? Isn't that related to whether people develop a strong immune system in childhood?

Michael K said...

People were keeping babies so clean, there was no exposure to the polio virus until it was (so to speak) too late.

Yes, paralytic polio first appeared in rural Sweden, which was quite isolated, then began to appear in American cities as public health improved. The connection was missed. Then, in about 1946, when the virus could be identified, they tested children in Mexico City and found that slum children all had antibodies to the virus. And, there was almost no paralytic polio.

Narr said...

My youngest bro was diagnosed with childhood asthma, as was my best friend. Turns out best friend may have been mis-diagnosed--he actually had some heart condition that wasn't obvious back in the day.

All three of us had allergies to the usual stuff--cats, pollen, dust, Earth's atmosphere in general.

Narr
Later-

Michael K said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
More "experts."

Yep. How many deaths occur per year due to medical error?


There are several answers to that. Certainly terrible dosage errors occur, like the Boston Globe health writer who got an overdose of chemo and the baby in New York that got 1.0 mg of digoxin instead of 0.1mg. Unit dosing and EHR have reduced those. Then there are stupidity errors, like the case in my book where we told a nursing assistant to take vital signs every 15 minutes on a critical patient. We came back an hour later to find the patient dead and careful vital sign records showing BP to go from 90 to 80 to 70 to 60 to 50, to 40, to 30, to 20, to 0. Nobody had told her to let us know. That is like a computer programming error.

I used to review med-mal cases and saw some. The trial lawyers have made millions from marginal cases they call "Errors."

As for asthma, the lowest incidence of asthma in the world is in children from dairy farms in north Germany and Poland. The assumption is the dust and pollutants of dairy farms.

Others disagree.

Bruce Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

"All three of us had allergies to the usual stuff--cats, pollen, dust, Earth's atmosphere in general.”

Hmm. My partner blames her allergies on the fact that I am out and about every day. My periodic question is why is it worse all of a sudden? And that might be the answer - we got a cat last year. Indoor cat, but he does shed a lot this time of year.

Just picked up a HEPA filter today at Home Depot to test out. Ostensibly, it is for the forthcoming fire season (supposed to be bad this year with drier than average May and June). But I hope to also cut down on the (false) claims that I am the source of the allergins causing her sinuses to go crazy.

n.n said...

More correctly acclimation, rather than adaptation. As with everything human, the rule of thumb is moderation. What doesn't break you, may make you stronger.

ken in tx said...

As a retired teacher, I can say that every year that I taught, I came down sick with some cold-like sickness from contact with sick kids. I am old enough now that I don't think my immune system needs any more exposure to pathogens. I avoid kids now, if it is at all possible. I have been much healthier, in the cold area, since.

Ralph L said...

Take your babies outside and roll them in the dirt like we used to do Polaroid prints. h/t Bill Cosby.

Michael K said...

I can say that every year that I taught, I came down sick with some cold-like sickness from contact with sick kids.

Pediatricians say the same thing. Kids pick up every virus.Old folks like me are never sick, although I am not around kids much. I did exam military recruits for six years but did not pick up much virus because I am immune to most of them.

Ralph L said...

On Sunday, I dumped a plate of spaghetti on the carpet, scraped it up, and ate it. Am I too old for that to do any good?

And that might be the answer - we got a cat last year.

My cats made my chronic indigestion significantly worse for 15 years. Even after they died, I had to move to a house they'd never shed in before I realized it.

stevew said...

Kitchen and bathroom are the places I spend extra time keeping clean.

The years when I had the most colds & flu were those in which my kids were young. Always figured it was them bringing home from school whatever it was the other kids brought in. I read once that the common cold is a virus and so once you've had one your body develops an immunity to that strain and you don't get it again. Unfortunately there seem to be an endless supply of different cold strains.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

@allenS

they might have Pica.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Ken in Tx is back. Long time no see.

Birkel said...

Can we talk about the 15,000 Mexican troops controlling illegal immigration yet?
Come on Smug...

I need you to be CONCERNED!

Nobody said...

I've never even gotten an STD

Have enough sex when you are young and your immune system is in top form, and you probably clear most strains of HPV pretty quickly.

Back to the article, it really doesn’t change much. "Let the kids get dirty playing outside" is not the same thing as drinking from a puddle at a subway station.

Fernandistein said...

How many deaths occur per year due to medical error?

"Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S. 3rd leading cause of death in the US."

The medical industry might be the only disease you have to pay for.

Fernandistein said...

need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune system'.

I bet a lot of people believe that most or many "germs" are harmful, even though almost all germs are harmless*; so whether people agree with that statement would depend on what the alternative answers were.

* "From this I estimate there are a million species of bacteria in 30 grams of rich forest topsoil and propose that there will be at least a billion species worldwide."

Nobody said...

One problem with men and HPV is that in men it may have no symptoms, but can kill their partners with cervical cancer.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

in the good old days, how many kids did you know who were
lactose intolerant, peanut allergies, etc?

did they account for non-natural/non-organic immune-compromising
factors that are ever crapping up the environment?

jimbino said...

Two of the right things to be clean about are dogs and cats. Each one carries some 45+ zoonoses they can transmit to humans. I see kids and women hug and kiss them and sometimes I see them in restaurants!

How can we take cleanliness seriously as long as disease is spread by careless animal "lovers"?

Birkel said...

jimbino perpetually decries fun things.
The era of that's not funny and don't have fun.

The Godfather said...

@Virgil Hilts: George Carlin died at 71. I've made it to 76, and I DON'T use the same brush on all four places.

Just sayin'.

Jeff said...

Best of all possible worlds is a dirty mind in a clean body.

Francisco D said...

I don't know. Should we trust a source that doesn't know how to spell vigilant?

That is an excellent point. It seems that they were in a rush to publish. What else were they sloppy about?

I can forgive narciso his constant typos, but if he were my doctor, I would be wary.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

So I have to go back to cleaning the bathroom?

Crap

Nobody said...

Lactose intolerance is genetic. My dad grew up on a dairy farm in the ‘20s, with all that entails, and often his family ate the small game his job was to go out and shoot. He was lactose intolerant. I grew up playing in mud and fishing in a river that you would never see featured on the cover of “Fly Fisherman,” to put it mildly. I have it.

Michael K said...

One problem with men and HPV is that in men it may have no symptoms, but can kill their partners with cervical cancer.

It also kills gays with anal cancer. Plus, of course, muff divers with pharyngeal cancer.

Paul said...

Well with our two little dogs... I don't think we have anything to worry about with over cleanliness.

narciso said...

I blame on autocucumber, the combination they come up are very cromulent,

iowan2 said...

It also kills gays with anal cancer. Plus, of course, muff divers with pharyngeal cancer.


Muffs? Where would we find one of those to dive? Me thinks your age is showing.

Hmmm. Speaking of cleanliness...

iowan2 said...

I grew up doing chores twice a day. Walking in the feed lots with feeder steers, and the hog lots with the fat hogs. Cleaning waters, scooping out bunks, adjusting feeders. Weekends were for cleaning the manure and old bedding from loafing sheds. I always say I have inhaled more cattle shit than most people have seen in a lifetime.
In school, I remember a core group of the townies that always had something going on health wise, and missing school. My buddies and I, that did chores twice a day rarely missed school due to colds and such. Of the six in our family, only my one brother had any allergies. He was allergic to corn dust. So the hypothesis is not perfect.

tcrosse said...

Early days in my Navy career I picked up a dose of the clap in Milwaukee. The Medical Officer who examined me said, "Boy, you got an infucktion". He took mercy on me and put it down to Non-Specific Urethritis to spare me the punishment which was doled out to VD sufferers.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

@Nobody
we were referring to the temporary secondary kind

Michael K said...

Me thinks your age is showing.

Done and gone the way of muffs. It's all Brazilian wax jobs now. Another style begun by porn actresses and adopted by the stylish.

Narr said...

OK, allergies, food allergies. My friend and I were born in 1953. One reason we were drawn together was the shared inability to breathe freely under a wide variety of circumstances. There was definitely some seasonal variation as might be expected, but we both (and my youngest brother) were pretty much mouth-breathers. Noses constantly running, inside or out.

We all had some shots at times, and they helped.

It was not until I was about 30 that someone suggested that my occasional but excruciating-ly painful headaches might be triggered by MSG--that I had Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. She was right, and I've been a different person since. Paranoid as hell about MSG and its aliases, but headaches are rare!

I didn't like the person who figured it out, but I'm grateful to her.

Narr
Wine has sulfites, oh well, more a beer guy anyway

Bill Peschel said...

I'm more worried about the increase in the use of pharmaceuticals, and the presence of hormones and birth control pills in our drinking water (source: AP story from the late 1990s, after which it seemed to vanish).

It seems like every mother I speak to today has at least one child with serious problems that require home care.

Limited Perspective said...

Good health/bad health antidotes are the best way to influence people based on a personal experience. Raising kids is a crap shoot. I had a chemistry degree which was unhelpful in the enterprise. I also belonged to a church, which had less data, but was more helpful. They turned out pretty good and they never went to the doctor except for an occasional broken bone or cut requiring stitches (mostly due to rough play).

I think I could be some kind of expert, except that as I get older I am haunted by the thoughts of how I could have done better and things that went wrong. I also think about my own unfounded theories for the health of the children: a stay at home mom, breast milk, rough and tumble play, private education, not keeping the windows closed all the way when the air or heat is on, that sort of thing.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

@Narr
yes-- that's the sh!t we be talkin' about.
Ever notice the difference in reaction to wine in europe vs stateside?
Almost instant headache/stuffed sinus here,
So... beer.


Howard said...

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-msg-got-a-bad-rap-flawed-science-and-xenophobia/

narciso said...

I haven't been in a Chinese restaurant enough to have that:
https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/06/as_pelosis_democrats_yell_about_soap_and_toothbrushes_migrants_empty_out_western_unions.html

wildswan said...

My relatives say that after you live in New Mexico for several years, you then get allergies in the spring.

The moms I know think the increased allergies are due to the new substances which are in food or in the air.

The prolifers I know think it's due to the contraceptives in urine which are being flushed into sewers and then that water is recycled without getting out the hormones.

My family thinks my gluten sensitivity is genetic since my mother was violently allergic to wheat but they also think I'm doing something wrong since they have overcome their sensitivity. Some think I'm eating bacon, others that I'm drinking coffee, others that I'm eating non-organic food and even GMO. I've tried to overcome by eating extra dark chocolate, and strawberries and drinking more red wine but nothing works. But my large family of relatives is still coming up with new reasons, a whole new generation of them. I'm eating food from far away, I'm eating non-seasonal food, I need to eat more dirt. Last night I tried putting Wisconsin maple syrup on a dark chocolate Dove bar after it fell on the floor. The plan was to do it every day for a week. But I feel that I got enough sugar for several weeks. Maybe I could drop a local carrot and then put on maple syrup and a strawberry topping. (I would pick them up before I add the toppings but maybe I should not ... but no. No, no, no.)


Michael K said...

eating extra dark chocolate, and strawberries and drinking more red wine but nothing works.

Sounds like a good plan even if no effect on allergies

Big Mike said...

If that is the case then the kids growing up in LA, San Francisco and Seattle must be the healthiest in the country.

The ones that live long enough to enter high school, yes.

Nobody said...

I have a secret stash of Accent, A.K.A. MSG, and sometimes I use it when barbecuing if I want extra compliments.

I Callahan said...

How can we take cleanliness seriously as long as disease is spread by careless animal "lovers"?

My god, you are a miserable human being.

mockturtle said...

Tcrosse reports: Early days in my Navy career I picked up a dose of the clap in Milwaukee. The Medical Officer who examined me said, "Boy, you got an infucktion". He took mercy on me and put it down to Non-Specific Urethritis to spare me the punishment which was doled out to VD sufferers.

My brother picked up a nasty case in 'Nam that was very difficult to treat. He called it 'gonorrhea gone-awry'.

BJM said...

How can we take cleanliness seriously as long as disease is spread by careless animal "lovers"?

You don't live in the country do you?

Amping up your gut bacteria is helpful and there are many tasty, easy ways to do so.

We live with three large dogs who generously volunteer to eat dirt so we don't have to.

Narr said...

OK, I'll give you North German rude health. My Oma ("granny") was a pure-dee Oldenburg peasant lass, raised in a thatched cottage where the people lived on one side of the wall and the animals on the other. It was built in 1817 (I have pix) and was there in 1978 when she still had a nephew--my second cousin once removed--living in the area.

She worked like a demon with my Opa to make a prosperous small business, and was the strongest woman I've ever known, all 5'6" and 140lbs of her. She outlived her husband, her two children, and all her friends, and died at 94, a family record. They met here, in the same trade, and learned English here, and she spoke with a strong accent all her life.

In later years she had falls of all kinds but would get back up, bruised and sore, and go on . . . until she didn't.

Narr
German food . . . ummmm

Narr

madAsHell said...

and she spoke with a strong accent all her life.

My father-in-law has been in this country since 1956. I've actually heard him speak Yankee, but he favors Spanglish.....because!!

JML said...

"Two of the right things to be clean about are dogs and cats."

My dog ate a half a roll of toilet paper last night. Today, he has the cleanest sh!t you can imagine.

Jeff said...

My uncle's been dead for forty years and hasn't had a single cold in all that time.