Categories: HomeLife

Cleaning Your Home Too Much May Cause Asthma (You’re Welcome)

We’ve literally just been handed what might possibly be the best “Get Out Of Jail Free” card that has ever existed!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I really don’t want to mop the floors/make the beds/vacuum upstairs”? Of course you have, you’re a busy parent who has a lot on their plate. I mean, you probably have more than one full plate at this point and you’re trying to figure out a way to balance them all. Who has time to fit in cleaning on the regular too?

Good news. A study conducted by the University of British Columbia has found that neglecting to do the housework may actually benefit our children in the long run. The results of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study showed that overly clean homes could increase the risk of babies getting asthma. Well, that’s why I took a rain check on my household chores this weekend, anyway…

Researchers found that the babies most at risk of developing asthma have low levels of four types of bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts and that by replacing the microbes they are lacking in, we could prevent the disease. So put down the Swiffer and step away from the anitbacterial wipes. Well, for the first couple of months at least.

The first three months are critical for babies to develop their immune system and the research props up the common myth that some germs are actually good for us. The work done by the University of British Columbia supports the theory that our bodies need practice fighting germs and encourages us to expose babies to different kinds of microbes to prevent them from developing illnesses such as allergies and asthma.

The fact that asthma more commonly affects sufferers in the Western world, as opposed to poorer countries, may back up these theories, pointing towards an over-zealous use of cleaning products and generally germaphobic attitude. Of course, cleanliness is not insignificant and when faced with a precious, newborn baby, it’s easy to see why we hold sanitation in such high regard. But this study may help to remind us that we mustn’t wrap our babies in cotton wool, as it may be detrimental to their immune systems and later health, as adults.

A microbiologist at the University of British Columbia and co-lead investigator of the study, Brett Finlay, said: “This research supports the hygiene hypothesis that we’re making our environment too clean.”

The four types of bacteria that at risk children were found to be lacking in, were bugs that babies typically acquire from the environment. The research found that a number of factors could affect the make-up of good bacteria in digestive system. Using antibiotics early in life, being born via c-section or having formula over breastfeeding are all contributors.

With the disease affecting up to 20% of children in developed countries like Canada, perhaps it’s time we gave this relaxed attitude to cleaning a chance.

Katie Bridges :Katie is the editor of UrbanMoms. A Brit abroad, she followed her husband to Canada and fell in love with the Great White North. She's not a mom yet, but she is a full-time, long-distance Auntie.

View Comments (1)

  • I was surprised there were more asthma sufferers here when the air is cleaner in general than in other parts of the world. Overcleaning is generally not a good idea as we develop less ability to withstand microorganisms.