There has been a lot of interest in the medical community about the role of the Hygiene Hypothesis in the developments of pediatric asthma. In its simplest form the Hygiene Hypothesis proposes that children who are exposed to more viruses, bacteria and microbes are less likely to develop conditions like asthma. It is believed that this early exposure boosts a child’s immune system for their lifetime.
Children who live in rural areas, come from large families and have lots of pets seem to develop asthma less frequently than children who are not exposed to those things. The overuse of antibacterial hand soaps, sanitizer gels and super sterilizing our homes may also be detrimental to the developing immune system.
Along this same line, a recent study done in Canada checked the gut microbiome of infants. Infants with the lowest level of the healthy gut bacteria—Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia (Flvr)—were more likely to develop asthma by age three.
Infants who were born via c-section also showed an increased risk of developing asthma. The problem could arise because the c-section prevents infant exposure to the bacteria in the vaginal fluid of the mother. A recent episode of The Doctors even suggested that swabbing the mom’s vaginal fluid and exposing the infant to it might benefit those born by c-section. Sounds gross, right? I know - but if it would have prevented my two c-section babies from getting asthma I would have done it in a heartbeat.
The take away from all of these studies is that not all germs are created equal. As parents we want to keep our babies well. That often means preventing them from catching illnesses. However, if we eliminate all the healthy bacteria in the process we could be creating an even bigger problem.
These tips can help balance the body’s microbiome:
- Instead of overusing anti-bacterial cleansers use plain old soap instead. It kills germs just as well without killing off as many healthy bacteria or creating bacterial resistance.
- Be sure to get healthy gut bacteria in the diets of moms and children. Those bacteria can be found in keifer, yogurt or other fermented foods.
- Only use antibiotics when absolutely needed. Remember - antibiotics won’t treat colds or viruses. If you do need an antibiotic be sure to take it as directed and finish the entire round.
We are not to the point in the research where they can recommend supplementation of specific healthy bacteria to prevent asthma. It may come to that one day. For now, follow the tips above and talk with your doctor about the best ways to treat pediatric asthma.
See More Helpful Articles:
New Research Fights Pediatric Asthma Epidemic
6 Tips for Asthmatics to Manage Spring Allergies
5 Triggers That Could Be Wreaking Havoc On Your Asthma
The Cost of Asthma: Are you financially burdened?
_Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics as well as graduate work in public health and nutrition. She has worked with families dealing with digestive disease, asthma and food allergies for the past 12 years. Jennifer also serves the Board of Directors for Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER). _
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.