Hygiene Hypothesis


no peanuts

The hygiene hypothesis states that the more hygienic a society is, the more allergic they are as well. Studies suggest that the immune system in early infancy is primed to recognize and fight infections. In the absence of infections, the immune system begins to target innocuous items in the child’s diet and environment. A rise in peanut allergies, in particular, is being investigated as the result of a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites. The theory that exposure to infections decreases the risk of an allergy was first proposed by, David P. Strachan in an article published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), in 1989.

Other diseases, such as the rise of autoimmune diseases and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in young people in the developed world, have also been linked to the hygiene hypothesis. There is also some evidence that autism is caused by an immune disease, and at least one study implicates the hygiene hypothesis as a cause of autism. Because of the increased use of antibiotics, antipyretics (fever reducing drugs), and vaccines against childhood diseases, children with modern medical care are less likely to experience high fever. According to some medical papers, high fever may prevent cancer.

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