Expose kids to germs!

Being overly concerned with cleanliness will do more harm than good to your kids.

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 or 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 points out.

“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 cases of allergic rhinitis and other allergic diseases have been on the rise over the last few decades. One theory, he says, is the hygiene hypothesis that has been put forth to explain the dramatic increase in such 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 explains.

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

ParenThots finds out the common ENT issues faced by children, and ENT care for them.

Readers write in

This week, ParenThots features one mother’s struggles to explain the death of grandma to her daughter, a baby’s low platelet count, the importance of a breastfeeding room in shopping malls, and the change in children’s attitude towards exams. There are also tips on how to manage and discipline children.

We have good news! Giant hypermarket has extended its promotion with ParenThots by another three months. That means, the best parenting story per month wins a RM200 Giant voucher until the end of April! Hurry and send your story to parenthots@thestar.com.my now!

Book reviews

Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids by David Walsh shares tips on raising well-rounded kids. This one is recommended by our reviewer.

Nine Little People Who Lived In A Chest by Wee Su May, meanwhile, explores themes like parenting, family, divorce and abandonment. Not for everyone because of the dark themes.

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