Could Germs Keep Your Kid Healthy?

3D render of virus cells.

Most disinfectants promise to kill 99.9% of all germs. But a new study suggests that letting a bigger percentage survive might lead to a healthier child.

A Harvard Medical School team exposed young mice to an array of common microbes. At the conclusion of their study the researchers found  the germy mice were healthier than mice protected from germs!

Scientists Richard S. Blumberg and Dennis L. Kasper explained their findings in the journal Science. Simply put – exposure to some microbes equips kids with stronger immune systems

Our bodies have a supply of cells called invariant natural killer Ts (iNKT). If you are old enough to remember The A Team, think of them as microscopic Mr. Ts who battle disease instead of bad guys. But T cells need germs to fight, or they make trouble for a body. If there are too many T cells with too few germs, the T cells can cause inflammation and illness.

Previous research in the 1990s examined a link between the boom in childhood food allergies and too many anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers, a phenomenon dubbed the “hygiene hypothesis.” This new Harvard study seems to support the hypothesis, and may force us all to reconsider the way we think about germs

Are you are germophobe when it comes to your kids?