A new study suggests a link between good hygiene might actually cause some children to develop allergies.
The JAMA Pediatrics study suggests that children's immune systems aren't being trained to recognize and fight off certain irritants in the air. The study says American-born children are 14 percent more likely to develop allergies than those born outside the U.S. It says several factors may be to blame, including being too clean.
"Having clean drinking water, not having to deal with some of the things that third world countries have to deal with is a good thing. Whether or not we're becoming too extreme may be some to increase in allergic incidents in the children of our country and even adults," Dr. Maxcie Sikora of the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Center said.
Sikora says since American kids aren't exposed to certain diseases, their bodies aren't trained to recognize irritants that lead to allergic reactions. This causes their immune systems to overreact when the allergens do show up.
"So legitimately us living in a healthier environment may predispose us to having incidents of allergy because our immune system is bored for lack of a better word," Sikora said.
American kids also have a higher rate of food allergies.
"It may have something to do with our Western diets but again the verdict is out on that," Sikora said.
Experts say this theory is a double-edged sword. Practicing poor hygiene can cause health issues, often more serious that a runny nose.
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