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Hand-washing Dishes Leaves Kids with Fewer Allergies: Study


hives alergy (Wikimedia Commons)

In a reversal of popular belief, a new study shows kids in families who hand-wash their dishes have fewer allergies.

In other worlds, they say getting a little dirty does the immune system to develop resistence to allergies, which were touted to be bad unless the “hygiene hypothesis” is strictly adhered to.

The study says kids develop so many allergies today owing to the environment and their exposure to bacteria early in life will improve their immune systems, the study suggests.

Past research has revealed that early lifestyle factors like having pets, eating fish and living on a farm significantly lower the risk of developing allergies and the new study suggests that hand washing dishes might be best chore to make kids grow resistence to bacteria.

“If you are exposed to microbes, especially early in life, you stimulate the immune system in various ways and it becomes tolerant,” says Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The team studied 1,029 Swedish children aged 7 to 8 and discovered that children in homes where the family hand-washed the dishes instead of using a machine were less likely to have allergies.

Only 23% of children whose parents used hand dishwashing had a history of eczema, compared with 38% of kids whose families mainly used machine dishwashing. The researchers said the result was amplified when kids ate fermented food or food bought directly from farms.

However, the study is based on observation and not backed by causative scientific study.

Hesselmar said some of the kids might be too young for handwashing dishes but it could be that long-term use of hand-washed dishes does the trick.

Though machine washing leaves fewer bacteria behind, hand-wash family members are eating off of plates and cutlery that have more bacteria, and become exposed and resistent to microbial exposure, the study noted.

The study has been published in the journal Pediatrics.

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