Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Exposure to germs early in life can help protect kids from chronic diseases like diabetes and dementia when they’re older.According to a study by Thomas McDade at Northwestern University, researchers found that children living in less sanitary conditions in the Ecuador had better disease immunity.
McDade’s research is interesting because it’s the first look at how microbial exposure early can impact kids later. He has also studied the same topic in the Philippines, with similar results.
McDade studied the body’s production of CRP, a protein found in the blood that increases when the body is inflamed. High levels of CRP have been linked to heart disease.
But researchers found that young people who lived in dirtier conditions had undetectable CRP in their blood. One in three Americans has an elevated level, he said.
“In my mind the study underscores the value of an ecological approach to research on the immune system, and it may have significant implications for our understanding of the links between inflammation and chronic disease,” McDade told Northwestern.
McDade theorizes this is because exposure to germs helps the body build a stronger resistance to disease.
“In the U.S. we have this sort of hyper-sanitary culture, hyper-hygienic environment, with antibacterial soaps everywhere and cleaning products. And we might want to reconsider the application of some of those products,” McDade told Northwestern’s news wire after his Philippines study was released in 2010.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.