Dishwasher Use May Increase Risk of Allergies in Children

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Dishwasher Use May Increase Risk of Allergies in Children
Dishwasher Use May Increase Risk of Allergies in Children

MONDAY, Feb. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Hand washing dishes instead of using a machine to wash dishes may reduce children's risk of developing allergic conditions, such as asthma or eczema, according to a new study. The findings were published online Feb. 23 in Pediatrics.

Bill Hesselmar, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of allergy at Queen Silvia Children's Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues asked the parents of 1,029 Swedish children about their history of asthma, eczema, and seasonal allergies. The children were 7 or 8 years old. The researchers also asked how the families cleaned their dishes. They also asked how often the families ate fermented foods and foods directly from a farm. When calculating the effect these factors might have on a child's allergy risk, the researchers made adjustments for other factors believed to lower the risk of allergy disease, such as breastfeeding and owning pets.

About 12 percent of the families hand washed their dishes. The scientists found that children in these families had about half the risk of developing allergic conditions compared to children in families that used dishwashing machines. For example, among children in hand-dishwashing homes, 23 percent had eczema and 1.7 percent had asthma. That compared to 38 percent with eczema and 7.3 percent with asthma in homes that used a machine to clean dishes. A lower proportion of children in hand-dishwashing homes also had seasonal allergies, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Children also tended to be less likely to have an allergic disease of any kind overall if they ate fermented foods or vegetables -- such as sauerkraut or fermented cucumber -- at least once a month, or food from a local farm, the researchers found.

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