Expose your kids to germs to boost their immune system

Among the ENT problems common in Malaysian children is glue ear or middle ear effusion.
- Photo ©iStockphoto.com / JoelJoso


Parents are constantly looking for that one pill or supplement that will help boost their child’s immunity.

Now, consultant ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist Dr Lim Wye Keat says it’s better to expose your children to germs to help them build up a natural immunity to bacteria and viruses.

He thinks it’s counterproductive to protect your children from the common cold by using face masks and preventing them from going to school.

“In my opinion, it will be a disadvantage as infection with the otherwise harmless common cold virus only serves to boost the child’s immunity,” he says.

“How does one expect to have a strong immunity? Vaccines? That’s artificial. Vitamins? Waste of money. Nothing truly replaces real-life training!” he emphasises.

It has been observed by epidemiologists that allergic rhinitis and other allergic diseases have increased in incidence over the last few decades. One theory, he says, is the hygiene hypothesis that has been put forth to explain the dramatic rise in incidences. In fact, this theory is a favourite of Dr Lim’s.

“Basically, its premise is that a child’s immune system needs real-life germs to fight, meaning viruses and bacteria. Our society is now cleanliness-obsessed, with a million cleaning agents to kill 99.99% of germs. This overzealous approach has then denied the child’s immune system of the real-life encounters it needs. I stress once again, nothing beats real-life training. The child’s immune system consequently turns on otherwise harmless antigens like dust mite and animal hair. In other words, we are making an enemy of something that would not have harmed us in the first place,” he says.

Dr Lim says parents who want to prevent allergy should let their children run around barefoot and use a little less cleaning agents!

by Shamala Velu.

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