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Overbearing Cleanliness: How Much Germs Should a Child Be Exposed To?

The pandemic of COVID-19 has made us all germ-phobic. In many ways, this is a good thing. We’re practicing behaviors we should have been doing all along, like washing our hands and sneezing into our elbows.

But is it possible to take cleanliness too far? When parents become overbearing, their children can miss out on things that are essential to their health, like, surprisingly, germs!

Exposing your child to germs helps build their immune system. There has to be a balance. You can protect them from deadly viruses and still help them become resilient to the microorganisms in the world.

Just how many germs should your child be exposed to as they’re growing up? This article answers that question from the experts.

How Children’s Immune Systems Work

All of us are born with a natural immune system as a method of defending the body from infections. Our immune systems are a network of cells and organs that come together to attack germs.

Leukocytes, phagocytes, and lymphocytes all have different jobs in this defensive technique. Phagocytes find the invaders and destroy them. Lymphocytes remember those invaders so they can recognize them later. And leukocytes act as the nurses of the body, healing damaged cells.

When foreign invaders are sensed, the immune system recognizes them and does what it knows to get rid of them. Each foreign substance is called an antigen, and lymphocytes make antibodies for every new antigen.

However, if your child is never exposed to an antigen while you’re there to help them through it, when they do get the germ, it can be harder on their bodies.

Exposure to Germs and the Immune System

That’s not to say you should let your child run rampant through disease-ridden streets and deal with the fallout. But helicoptering them to protect them from all germs isn’t safe, either.

Significant levels of research show that when kids are exposed to germs early, their bodies create defenses that help them later in life. This is especially true when it comes to allergies and asthma.

The idea, known as the “hygiene hypothesis,” concludes that young immune systems should be exposed to microorganisms. This gives them a reduced chance of developing autoimmune diseases like allergies and asthma as adults.

To aid your child in growing up healthy, you have to stimulate their minds and their bodies. They need to know the benefits of exercise and nutrition in their diets so they can make informed decisions when they’re on their own.

Instead of overbearing cleanliness, turn your energy to studying wellness sites, like BraceYourHealth. What you learn, you’ll teach your child, and they’ll teach theirs. It’s a generational change that will have a stronger impact—and be easier to keep up with—than the “no germ” rule.

We understand that your children are the most important and cherished parts of your life. That’s why it’s crucial that you understand how harmful keeping them from all germs can be.

They don’t have to be exposed to every germ, as we know from the coronavirus pandemic. But kids will eat dirt and food off the floor occasionally, and those little germs might just save their lives later.

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