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Can we be too clean?

A report by The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) has shed some light into the debate that society is too sterile.  Many believe we overdo home hygiene, killing off good bacteria along with bad and not giving our immune systems a chance to develop.  This is thought to explain the rise in allergies over the last 50 years, especially in children.

Research by the IFH involved a detailed review of 2 decades worth of empirical studies.  In a report titled The hygiene hypothesis and its implications for home hygiene, lifestyle and public health, the organisation concluded that there was no real evidence to support this theory. 

“Of all the candidate trends that might explain a general decline in microbial exposure, one of the weakest is the simplistic idea that the underlying cause is being too clean in our own homes.  There is in fact no direct evidence linking the cleanliness of homes to increased risks of allergies.” 

Read a full summary of the IFH’s home cleanliness research

The IFH factsheet states “Relaxing hygiene would randomly expose us to all kinds of microbes including harmful pathogens that happen to be in our homes and surroundings, on our food and so on.  That would bring real risks of infectious disease and take us back towards the days when lives were short and 1 in 4 babies died.”

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