Eczema – is your dishwasher to blame?

Some Swedish boffins have been looking into the possible early causes of allergies, asthma and eczema and have concluded that getting your dishes squeaky clean might be doing you more harm than good.

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The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, asked 1,029 Swedish families with children aged seven-eight all about their household habits; where they bought their food, how they did their cleaning etc.

The so called ‘hygiene-hypothesis’ has been around for some time. Prof David Strachan first published a study in 1989 which suggested that our modern, higher levels cleanliness have resulted in a lack of childhood exposure to germs and infections – which in turn could be to blame for the rise in allergies.

This new study accepts that while there are many factors related to the increase in the development of atopic and allergic diseases – such as the increase in car traffic and air pollution – and that there is probably no single cause, they have discovered that, under most circumstances, a child’s immune system is stimulated by early microbial exposure.

After the Swedish families were asked about their daily routines in detail, the scientists concluded that one of the strongest associations was seen between dishwashing by hand and a reduction in allergic diseases. A history of eczema was reported by 23% in children whose parents used hand dishwashing compared with 38% in those who mainly used a dishwasher.

Other factors which were found to result in fewer cases of allergic diseases in children included buying food direct from farms, eating fermented food (such as sauerkraut or fermented cucumber – yum!) and drinking unpasteurised milk – but most importantly, only when taken alongside ditching the dishwasher!

So, sloppy housework and fermented food (and obviously I am happily interpreting that to include all fermented drinks 😉 ) could be good for eczema.

I’ll drink to that! Happy Friday.

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