The dangers of protection

June 10, 2009

Yet another story in the news about the rising number of food allergies among kids has got me thinking that living in sterile environments is bad, bad, bad.  While the news of the story is actually good, that exposure therapy for kids with peanut and milk allergies has promise, the part that really struck me was this: 

The reason for the [increase in the number of kids with food allergies] is the subject of intense research and debate. There are several theories, including changes in how food is processed and children’s not being exposed to certain foods early in life. Evidence has also been mounting for the “hygiene hypothesis,” which blames growing up in increasingly sterile homes, making the immune system overreact to ordinarily harmless substances, including food.

So two out of the three possible reasons on the table- not exposing them to foods and raising them in sterile environments- are tied to sheltering our kids too much.  We are hurting our kids by protecting them so much!!!

And this all goes back to the same anxiety provoking information that I have blogged about before.  When you think about what we grew up with, not to mention what our parents experienced, all of this paranoia is just laughable.  But perhaps even more importantly, all this worrying and hovering and sheltering takes up a ton of energy that we could otherwise use to enjoy time with our children.

So bring on the peanuts, the dairy, the dirt, the pets, the alcohol, and all those other things that make life fun.

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