Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s center believe they have uncovered a factor contributing to the dramatic rise of childhood food allergies over the past two decades.
They believe that antibacterial chemicals in soap, toothpaste, and other products may be leading to an increase in allergies and asthma.
This finding supports the “hygiene hypothesis” which suggests that children in developed nations grow up in environments that are too clean, and don’t enable their immune systems to get used to the presence of bacteria and germs. As a result, the immune system overreacts when faced with a potential allergen.
Results of New Research
The study involved 860 children. Researchers measured the presence of antibacterial chemicals in their urine, and found that children with higher levels of the chemicals were more likely to have IgE antibodies in their blood. These antibodies are related to the immune systems, and levels are higher in people with allergies.
Lead study author Jessica Savage announced in a press release,
“The link between allergy risk and antimicrobial exposure suggests that these agents may disrupt the delicate balance between beneficial and bad bacteria in the body.”
The researchers concluded that there may be a link between allergies and children being exposed to antibacterial chemicals in toothpastes, soaps, mouthwash, and other personal care products.