GREAT NECK, NY – A recent study in the journal Pediatrics showed that hand-washing dishes rather than putting them in a dishwasher can help children avoid food allergies.
“I feel that this is a study that is similar to many others and addresses something called the hygiene hypothesis,” said Punita Ponda, MD, assistant division chief of allergy and immunology at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park. “If your environment is very hygienic, too hygienic where there is very little bacteria that naturally would have been there [because you got rid of it], that then you become predisposed to having food allergies or other types of allergies.”
Things such as constantly using antibacterial soap can also increase a child’s food and other allergies for the same reason – natural bacteria are being eliminated. There is a balance that each parent and family has to find as far as how hygienic to keep their living space and children.
“The balance is different for each family,” Dr. Ponda said. “There is evidence this study brings up that hand washing is helpful, but if you’re not spending as much time with the kids, well is that really what you want to do when we don’t know for sure that that is going to make them avoid food allergies?”
Dr. Ponda is studying the hygiene hypothesis in her research; she is looking at how bacteria in a person’s gut have changed over time and its relationship to food allergies.