Parents shouldn't obsess over keeping the house clean, because keeping it sterile can increase a child's risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to a study in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer.
"Being exposed to kids with runny noses can be an inconvenience but can help those kids later in life," said Dr. Michael Burke, director of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Program and associate professor at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Medical College of Wisconsin. "Part of it is just letting kids be kids and play in the dirt outside."
Burke wants to assure parents that the study is talking about a specific type of cancer. Plus, children must already have a mutation making him or her more likely to get leukemia for the "clean house" theory to apply.
"The paper makes a statement most of leukemia could be prevented, but I don't think we're there yet," Burke said.
He said the basic takeaway for parents is that it's OK for kids to be exposed to germs at an early age to build up their immune systems.
Burke said hand sanitizer is OK for adults, but parents shouldn't be obsessed with constantly using it on children under the age of 5.