Research seems to suggest that children exposed to more germs as little kids are less likely to get illnesses such as asthma, allergies, or autoimmune disorders later in life. And even more research suggests that since little girls tend to be cleaner and play indoors more frequently, they have an increased risk of developing these types of sicknesses. It's called the hygiene hypothesis. To find out more, just keep reading.
Women do have more asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders than men. However, young boys, who tend to play in microbial-ridden dirt more often, actually are affected by more illnesses early on. Sharyn Clough of Oregon State University, whose research on the topic was featured in Social Science and Medicine, told NPR, "It's actually pretty good that we have higher sanitation rates than we used to. But it turns out, we just weren't aware of how complex the ecologies of germs are."
In another twist, asthma, allergies, and autoimmune disorders are increasing for both women and men. "So what that means — if the hygiene hypothesis folks are right — is that we're decreasing our exposure to germs all the time even though we have more girls playing sports," said Clough. What do you think about this information? Do your experiences support these theories, or is it just too hard to make the connection?