Home > Mom's Life > Mom's Health and Fitness > General Health > Medications > Are We Overusing Antibiotics and Antibacterial Products?

Are We Overusing Antibiotics and Antibacterial Products?

The second part of the controversy over antibacterial products has to do with the way in which the human immune system develops, rather than the things that it protects you against (like dangerous bacteria). When a baby is born, he already has an immune system that will protect him against many diseases. However, the immune system functions best against a disease when it has encountered that disease before. In a sense, it has a memory and learns. As a child grows older and encounters more threats to its immune system, that system grows stronger because it learns how to recognize and respond more efficiently to those threats. This is why we give babies and children vaccines. Vaccines work by introducing a harmless version of a microbe into a person's body. When the microbe enters the body, the immune system immediately begins to learn about the intruder and how to get rid of it. It's kind of like a practice run -- giving your immune system the benefit of encountering the disease without putting you at any real risk.

But what does all this have to do with antibacterial products in your house? Some scientists think that if a child grows up in a nearly sterile environment -- one in which there are very few bacteria or other dangers for his immune system to encounter -- his immune system will be weaker because it hasn't had any practice fighting off diseases and other threats. Though no human baby has ever been raised in a completely sterile lab environment, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, and rats have, and in no case did any of these animals develop a normal, healthy immune system.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks