New research suggests that by exposing young children to a daycare environment you may help build their immune system against allergic diseases. In this video, icyou's Medical Editor Dr. Mona Khanna explains the findings.
Rebecca Fox: You may think you're protecting your young child from germs and illness by keeping them at home instead of sending them to daycare. However new research suggests that by exposing young children to a daycare environment, you may help build their immune system against allergic diseases. Here to explain the research is icyou's Medical Editor Dr. Mona Khanna. Dr. Mona, how can a daycare help protect a child against allergies? Dr. Mona Khanna: Well this is not a new concept Rebecca. Let's talk first about why children develop allergies and why they develop asthma which is a type of severe allergy and that is the leading theory nowadays, which is called a clean-hygiene theory and that basically says that we are too clean. We're too hygienic and for that reason kids are not exposed to the germs, the bacteria, the viruses, the other microbes that help build up their immune system and if they can't build up their immune system then they can't fight things. So that's the current theory that explains in some ways, why children develop allergies and asthma to begin with? So now let's take that and flip it. So on the other hand if you expose kids, send them to daycare, expose them to as many germs as possible other kids who're always putting their hands in their mouth and then playing with toys, the contaminations on the toys, playing in dirt, sand boxes and other areas. This way children get exposed to all different types of bacteria and viruses and parasites and other microbes and then their immune system gets challenged and that's the leading theory is to how sending kids to daycare may actually be beneficial to them. Rebecca Fox: So should parents take this study into account, if they've the choice of whether to keep their kids at home or send them to daycare? Dr. Mona Khanna: Well, I think it's really a choice for the parents. It's more than just the different studies that come out. It's what's best for the child. What is best for the parent, if the parent works? But I think it's important to keep in mind that as far as we know the leading theory about why children develop allergies as I said is this hygiene theory. So, in some ways you might want to take it into consideration because you definitely want your child to grow up with this few medical conditions as possible and if scientists, researchers and medical doctors are saying, this might be one way to do it. Of course, that should be a part of your decision making but not completely all of it. Rebecca Fox: I see! So aside of this hygiene theory, are there any other known methods that would help boost your child's immune system? Dr. Mona Khanna: Well, we really believe that children need to go through the right of passage of being children and that basically is in essence exposing them to germs and other things. I mean I haven't heard of a child dying from eating dirt but we all know that kids will put dirt in their mouth. They just don't know any better and that in a sense helps them build up their immune system. So, I think if exposing these children to germs, through daycare helps build up their immune system, it's considered a right of passage in some ways, then that's really the way to go. So, as far as we know being exposed to as many things as possible, helps the child develop, not only of course physically, since we're talking about allergies but also mentally because you want them to be stimulative in so many different ways. Aside from that, just good nutrition, a good environment, warmth during winter, stable environments during summer, all of those things will help contribute to a child growing up to be a healthy adult. Rebecca Fox: Dr. Mona thank you for shedding some light on this research. I know a lot of parents may think it's counterintuitive but -- Dr. Mona Khanna: You're absolutely right! Like you said, I think you used the word earlier about protect. You want to protect your child from anything bad that could be out there, any dangers that could be lurking. In this case though, there's a flip side to it. It is beneficial. Rebecca Fox: Thank you again! And you can watch more videos about Allergy and Asthma as well as videos featuring Dr. Mona on icyou.com. For icyou On Topic, I'm Rebecca Fox.