Scientists debunk idea that rise in allergic diseases is due to homes becoming “too clean”

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e6673 (Published 3 October 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6673

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  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

UK researchers say that they have dismantled the “myth” that allergic diseases have risen to epidemic levels because people now live in sterile homes and have become “too clean.”

A report published today by the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene rejects the so called hygiene hypothesis, which first suggested more than 20 years ago that reduced exposure to infection in early childhood as a result of improved cleanliness might explain the rise of some allergies.1

Not only is the theory unsupported by evidence, says the report, it is “confusing and potentially dangerous” because it could put people off washing and cleaning to remove possible pathogens when the threat of infectious disease is rising.

Graham Rook, a coauthor of the study and a professor at University College London’s Centre for Clinical Microbiology, said, “The rise in allergies and inflammatory …

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