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More allergies when using antibacterials?

Washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene is very important to maintain good health and avoid the spread of infections. However, a new study found that, when it comes to children, using products with antibacterials and preservatives can increase the chances of them developing allergies.

As the responsible mother she is, Lizbeth is concerned about giving her children the best and protecting them from any kind of danger, including illness or infection. That is why he has taught them to maintain good personal hygiene. And to feel even safer, you usually choose products with antibacterial ingredients, which include some soaps, toothpastes and mouthwashes.

What Lizbeth does not know is that this can have the opposite effect to what she seeks. At least, that was found by a group of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Center, in the United States, who analyzed the data of 860 children from 6 to 18 years of age, who participated in a national health survey of that country.

Contrary to what anyone would expect to maintain a high level of disinfection and cleanliness, according to this study, which has been published in the June 18 online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology , children who used some Products with antibacterials and preservatives were more likely to develop allergies, both to food and to substances in the environment .

Specifically, the researchers examined the possible relationship between the levels in the urine of antibacterials and preservatives found in many personal hygiene products and the presence of IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies in the blood of children. IgE antibodies are part of the defense system (the immune system). Their levels increase in response to any substance that causes allergy (or allergen) and are elevated in people who have allergies.

Thus, researchers have found that children with the highest levels of an antibacterial agent called triclosan had more than double the risk of developing food allergies and almost double the chances of having environmental allergies, compared to children who showed levels lower triclosan.

Similarly, children with the highest levels of the preservative called propyl paraben were more than twice as likely to develop environmental allergies as those with the lowest levels (but, in this case, propyl paraben has not been associated with the risk of food allergies).

Does this mean you should stop promoting hygiene in your home? Of course not, only that -as in other areas of life- extremes are bad. Unless there is a special health situation in your family that requires it, in general it is not necessary to use products with antibacterials. A good soap and clean water are enough to fulfill this mission.

Above all, it is proven that proper hand washing helps to avoid the spread of infections and diseases. Teach your children to wash with soap and water before eating and after going to the bathroom or after blowing their nose or sneezing.

You also have to wash your hands after having been playing with pets or having been in contact with surfaces that may have germs, such as handles in public transport, with money that passes from hand to hand and with garbage.

Washing your hands is simple, but it’s not just a matter of getting wet with water. You also need soap and rub well. Remember and explain to your children that before washing their hands, the rings and jewelry must be removed.

Then, you must wet your hands with running water (warm or cold), soaping and rubbing them to form foam (including the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails), for at least 20 seconds (a good reference for to calculate that time is to sing the happy birthday twice, try and see!).

To finish, you have to rinse your hands well with running water, until all the soap is removed and, dry with a paper towel or with an air dryer, to prevent the hands from getting wet.

With these simple care is enough to maintain good hygiene, avoid the spread of infections and help your children grow up healthy and strong.

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