Antibacterial products may be related to allergies

June 26, 2012

Exposure to antibacterial chemicals and preservatives may make children more susceptible to a variety of food and environmental allergies, a new study suggests.

Baltimore - Exposure to antibacterial chemicals and preservatives may make children more susceptible to a variety of food and environmental allergies, a new study suggests.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, used existing data from a national health survey of 860 children ages 6 to 18. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center examined the relationship between the urinary levels of antibacterials and preservatives found in many hygiene products and the presence of IgE antibodies in blood, Newswise.com reports. IgE antibodies are significantly elevated in allergy sufferers.

According to the study authors, the findings don’t prove that hygiene products themselves are to blame for allergies, but that they may play a role in immune system development, Newswise.com reports.

“The link between allergy risk and antimicrobial exposure suggests that these agents may disrupt the delicate balance between beneficial and bad bacteria in the body and lead to immune system dysregulation, which in turn raises the risk of allergies,” Newswise quotes lead investigator Jessica Savage, M.D., as saying.

The study’s findings are consistent with the “hygiene hypothesis,” which states that early exposure to pathogens is required to build a healthy immune system. Lack of exposure may lead to immune system problems, including allergies, according to the theory.

The study was published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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