Excessive cleaning blamed for rise in allergies

Modern parents are putting children at greater risk of allergies by cleaning their homes too much...

An expert has backed the theory that modern parents are putting children at greater risk of allergies by cleaning their homes too much.

The ‘hygiene hypothesis‘ – which states that some bacteria are necessary to bolster our immune system – has existed for years but has yet to be proved scientifically. Now leading allergy expert Professor Guy Delespesse, of the University of Montreal, says he believes our sterile environments have fuelled a sharp rise in allergies and asthma.

Allergies can be caused by family history, air pollution, processed foods, stress and smoking, but Prof Delespesse said a lack of bacteria in the world around us may be the biggest factor.

He said: ‘The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime.’
 
In 1980 just 10 per cent of the western population had allergies compared with 30 per cent today. In 2010, one out of 10 children is said to be asthmatic and the mortality rate resulting from this affliction increased 28 percent between 1980 and 1994.

Prof Delespesse said: ‘Regions in which the sanitary conditions have remained stable have also maintained a constant level of allergies and inflammatory diseases.

‘Allergies and other autoimmune diseases are the result of our immune systems turning against us.’

He said consuming probiotics – foods like yogurt that contain a mixture of beneficial organisms – can help combat the problem by artificially introducing bacteria into the gut. ‘They are not a miracle remedy, yet they are one of many elements that improve our diet and our health,’ he explained.

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