A new study has showed that the parents who are in the practice of washing their dishes by hand rather than opting for a dishwashing machine, may unintentionally reduce the possibility of allergies in their children.
The researchers conducted the study to look at a number of behaviors that may expose kids to bacteria in their early life and might provide them protection against developing allergies later on.
Presuming the hygiene hypothesis, the main idea is that the children raised in specifically sanitized environments have reduced risk of developing an immune tolerance to trivial threats like allergies.
For the recent study, the researchers followed nearly 1,000 young children and their parents from Sweden’s Gothenburg area.
The study researchers analysed behaviors among the children and their parents. Some of the studied behaviors included:
- Whether the children were fed foods by the parents that were purchased directly from farms, like unpasteurized milk, meat and eggs
- Whether the kids consumed fermented foods having beneficial probiotic bacteria
- Whether the parents washed their utensils using a dishwasher or by hand
The researchers also examined whether the kids had allergic conditions such as eczema, asthma and hay fever.
They found that the children who were raised in households where parents washed dishes by hand showed half the rate of allergies. It was also found that this association was increased if the kids ate foods bought directly from local farms or fermented foods.
The results of the study showed only an association and not cause or effect scenario. Hence, it is still unclear whether these behaviors directly contributed to fewer allergies.
Study lead author Bill Hesselmar, who is an assistant professor at the University of Gothenburg, said that there is a possibility that these behaviors expose the small kids to innocuous bacteria, which can be very helpful in strengthening their immune systems in later stage of their life.
Speaking in the context of dishwashing behavior of parents, Dr. Hesselmar said that even though the dishwashing machines’ sanitizing effect can be a positive thing, but the “less efficient” washing methods like by hand may leave behind some beneficial bacteria that boost immune system.
He, however, expressed need for in-depth research work in the findings of the latest study.
The findings of the new study were published in the journal Pediatrics.