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Do not shield children from dirt and illness

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Sunday October 15, 2006

Wiesbaden, Germany­ Parents should not prevent their children from coming into contact with dirt and less serious illnesses, according to the Association of German Allergists. If a neighbour's child has a cold, do not be afraid to let your child play with them. That strengthens their immune system, says Kirsten Jung, a board member of the association.

A medical study came to the conclusion that children who grew up on farms had fewer allergies than their counterparts in urban areas.

"Kids should be allowed to play in grime," advises Jung. In the early years, the body's immune system needs to be stimulated by bacteria so that can reach full strength, according to the association.

That accounts for why parents should not go over the top when it comes to hygiene. "Cleaning the home with chemicals twice a week is too much," says Jung.

On the other hand, ventilating the home regularly with fresh air to reduce the level of house mites is important, Jung notes.

House mites along with fungi are considered the main causes of allergies.

She also advises against smoking in the same room as a pregnant woman or a baby.

The association also says that breast feeding a baby for the first four months also reduces the likelihood the child will develop an allergy in later years.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency