We may be dirty, but exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more likely to have food and environmental allergies.
Researcher Jennifer Savage says, "We saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens."
The antibacterials and preservatives THEMSELVES do not necessarily cause the allergies, but instead may play a role in the development of the immune system.
The investigators say their findings are also consistent with the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which is one possible explanation behind the growing rates of food and environmental allergies in the developed world. The hypothesis suggests that early childhood exposure to common pathogens is essential in building healthy immune responses, and that lack of such exposure can lead to an overactive immune system that misfires against harmless substances such as food proteins, pollen or pet dander.
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