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We’re going to need more Palmolive…

February 24, 2015

OK, no.  Uh uh.  Not gonna happen.  Just…no.   It has all gone too far.

We all know that good mothers make their own organic baby food, breast feed until high school,  bleach their babies’ cloth diapers and hang them on hemp clotheslines, and sew fair-trade pure cotton onesies.  Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you that the very best mothers also don’t use dishwashers.

According to the journal Pediatrics, specifically Bill Hesselmar, Anna Hicke-Roberts, and Goran Wennergren, children who’s mothers use dishwashers are significantly more likely to have allergy-related diseases like eczema, hayfever and asthma than children who’s parents mainly wash their dishes by hand.  Here’s the link:

The authors are basing their research on the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” in which scientists posit that people in developed countries are growing up in a sanitary environment that does not promote a healthy and robust immune system.  Children’s immune systems are not challenged by foreign microbes, and thus the body is more likely to respond to common, harmless antigens as infectious and mount inappropriate immune responses, i.e, allergies.

I kind of agree that kids should be exposed to bugs.  My little angels have been known to eat the occasional french fry off the floor, I won’t lie.  Having all three of them sick every single Christmas sucks, but I’m assured by the best pediatric minds that a rock-hard immune system is in the offing.  However, in the virulent petri dish that is my local indoor playground, I chase my kids around with the hand sanitizer with the most crazy of the liberal elite east-coast mothers.  Nobody wants a vomiting 3-year-old.

So I understand the effort to keep children from getting sick.  And in all fairness, the authors are not suggesting that our kids be sick all the time, but that exposure to harmless microbes is normal and even helpful.  All good, but the inevitable result of a study like this is the scourge of well-meaning, over-educated, under-employed women nationwide: mommy guilt.
Picture this:  noble stay-at-home mom, wearing her baby 24/7, breastfeeding on demand while sending organic carrots through the blender with one hand and searching the web for college-prep preschools with the other, all the while wondering if the hypoallergenic laundry soap from Whole Foods is really the same one used by Gwynneth Paltrow when Apple was a baby.  Now all those sharp little blender parts, miniature Tupperware with hard-to-open lids, and BPA-free rubber bibs with the little spill pocket have to be lovingly hand-washed to protect little Ashley from the evil hyper-sanitary environment the desperate mother has been otherwise striving for in every corner of her house.
Please everyone.  Let the poor woman have her dishwasher.

From → Healthcare

  1. Understand the need for the dishwasher and agree its not going out of use in our house. However the principle behind the article is imo sound – the Incidental Economist does a nice job of data analysis here

    • Thank you Nick. Yes, I meant for the piece to be mostly humorous, but I agree that the science is pretty convincing.

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