According to a new research, households where dishes are washed by hand have children less susceptible to developing allergies.
The study, which was conducted by the researchers from the Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, states that kids who wash dishes have fewer allergies. This new findings supports the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ theory, which states that exposure to dirt strengthens the immune system and that the reason why kids are developing more and more allergies is because their environment is too clean. Consequently, the theory suggests that the immune system misfires when it encounters these microorganisms, leading to allergies, eczema and asthma.
Dr. Bill Hesselmar, an associate professor of allergy at Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the lead author of the study, said, “I think it is very interesting that with a very common lifestyle factor like dishwashing, we could see effects on allergy development.”
For their study, the researchers surveyed the parents of 1,029 children aged 7-8 years who lived in two regions of Sweden. The parents were asked to answer questions on their children’s allergies and whether they had asthma or eczema, and provide information on how the family washes their dishes and how often they eat fermented or farm-fresh foods.
From the answers that were given by the parents, the researchers found that children from families that hand-washed their dishes had lower rates of allergies than children from families who used a dishwasher. The kids from families who did not use a dishwasher also had significantly lower rates of eczema and slightly lower rates of asthma and hay fever than their dishwasher-owning peers.
The researchers found that out of the total of children, 23% of kids whose parents washed the dishes by hand had a history of eczema compared to the 38% of kids whose families used a machine. It was also revealed that the results of the study amplified when kids ate food bought from farms or ate fermented food.
“The study cannot confirm causality, as it is just an observational study. For example, it may just be that the dishes washed by hand are simply not clean enough as the ones washed by the dishwasher, as it was previously revealed by a study. So, it may not just be that kids who wash the dishes themselves get exposed to bacteria that reduce the risk of developing allergies,” added Hesselmar.
Other researchers stated that the study was well done and caveated well and it also suggested interesting models and new areas of research.
The findings were published in the Pediatrics journal.