Food for thought about how to live healthy!

Posts tagged ‘immune system’

Man’s Best Friend? More Like Babies’ Best Friend!

What’s cuter than seeing a picture of a baby or a dog? Seeing a picture of a baby AND a dog! It turns out pairing babies with dogs doesn’t just make for good pictures. It’s also good for the baby’s health.

A study by Finland’s Kuopio University Hospital found that babies that were raised around dogs had a significantly lower rate of infection than babies not raised around dogs. The effect was similar is households with cats, but the decrease in infection rate was larger in households with dogs.

Some parents would shake their heads at the fact that some families would allow animals near babies, especially during the first few months of life. Coincidentally, these parents are the ones that scrubs the walls of their child’s room every week, force anyone holding the baby to bathe their hands in sanitizer yet refuse to give their child a flu shot even though this strain of flu is extremely high risk and 20 children have died from it…Americans!

Little do those parents know that sterilizing their child’s environment is detrimental to their baby’s health and that the parents that let their child and dog live under the same roof are doing their child a favor!

The Hygiene Hypothesis, a relatively new theory introduced during the 90’s era boom of super-duty cleaning products, states that children’s immune systems develop best when they are kept in a moderate germ environment. That’s not to say that every child should be bathed in a mud bath. Too many germs can overload a child’s immune system. However, too few germs can stifle the development of the immune system, leading to more frequent and more severe infections later.

Babies love chewing EVERYTHING they can find, including their own hands and feet, which turns out to be a good thing sometimes. The microbes and germs on the baby get sent to the babies stomach, where there is a pool of good bacteria and other flora. That good bacteria is able to modify itself so it can not only destroy the bad microbes but protect the rest of the body from those microbes in the future. It can also help prevent the body from attacking itself and lead to less allergies. Plus the stomach is a low-risk zone for infection. Almost all bacteria and viruses either get beaten down by the good intestinal bacteria or they get destroyed by stomach acid.

Dogs are perfect for keeping a moderate germ environment. Dogs that go outside bring back germs into the home. The child gets exposure to germs from outside, but is still kept in a relatively clean environment inside, as long as the parents keep a clean home around their baby. A few other tips if you have a dog at home: if your child is less than 3 months old, it’s probably best to not let the dog touch the child especially if your dog is a big dog.From 3 to 12 months old, you can lay the baby and dog down on the same carpet but try not to let your baby touch any of the dog’s chew toys and don’t let the dog lick the baby. The outside of a dog is not nearly as germy as the inside of a dog’s mouth.

Do you need a dog for your child to develop a healthy immune system? Absolutely not. But should you kick out your dog to keep your baby healthy? No way. Unless your child has asthma or is allergic to the dog, dogs can be great ways to keeping your child happy and healthy.

Flu Side Note: I’m so sick and tired of hearing about flu stories so I’m just going to post this short blurb. The best and most guaranteed way to protect your child from the flu is to get a flu shot. Children and the elderly are the most high-risk people, and this year’s strain of flu is BAD. The vaccine is shown to be 60-80% effective at preventing the flu. And last I checked, the rate of developing a mental disorder from the flu shot this year is somewhere around 0-0%. That 0% is also the same percentage of kids who received the flu shot and later died from the flu. All flu deaths in kids this year were in kids that had not been vaccinated. I’m not trying to scare you into getting a flu shot for your child, but there really is zero risk in getting one and it is the best protection against the flu.


Infection Responses: How Strep Throat Can Cause OCD

Nobody enjoys being sick. The fever, the runny nose, the sore throat, the swollen glands and the hacking cough are all common symptoms that signal the presence of an infection. But almost all these symptoms aren’t caused by the invader. They are caused by the immune system in response to the disease.

The immune system is one of the most powerful and organized systems in the human body. It consists of the skin (yup! your skin is the first line of defense against infection!), the mucus membrane, and finally the leukocytes: T Cells and antibodies.

When a bacteria or a virus enters the bloodstream, the white blood cell identifies it as an invader and calls in the troops for attack. It send out certain antibodies, based on whatever toxin the bacteria or virus produces, to stop the movement of pathogens in the blood stream. After the antibodies have targeted the invaders, the tanks roll in. These huge white blood cells are known as macrophages. They literally eat the invaders and break down the pathogen’s cells walls inside their bodies.

As we grow into adults, our immune systems become more organized and we are able to handle stronger infections as well as stronger infection responses. But as children, our bodies are still developing and are fragile. Our immune systems fight hard so the pathogen can’t cause damage, but when our white blood cells fight TOO hard it can cause serious side effects, particularly in children.

More importantly though, additional studies have been published recently that are more specific about what types of infection response can cause mental disorders, specifically strep throat and OCD.

Streptococcus is a very common bacteria that comes in a variety of infections, the most common being strep throat. From pneumonia, to ear infections, even cavities and rare flesh eating diseases are all caused by streptococcus.

Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcus, or PANDAS, has been a condition characterized since the 1990s, but is just now only beginning to be understood. In PANDAS, the antibodies that are meant to target infection instead attack brain cells, causing sudden-onset mental defects.

There are several ways in which the immune system can work against the body. A study published in February has shown that a specific gene can cause inflammatory problems in the brain when the immune system fights infection. This sort of inflammation can lead to personality problems such as schizophrenia and suicidal behavior. Although this is the first study to suggest these kinds of changes in psychology as a result of immune response, this is also a new field of research where scientists and biologists are only beginning to dip their toes in a pool of information.

All this information is further proof that as well develop more powerful artificial antibiotics and antibacterial chemicals, the more we have to artificially develop our own bodies. Many doctors predict huge advancements in medicine within the next 25 years, such as gene therapy and effectively powerful drugs for psychosis. As this new trend in medicine advances, it will be interestingly intriguing to see how the response to this new research trends as well.

*Editor’s Note: I apologize for the lack of posts towards the end of the year. I seriously needed time off from school and work to enjoy my holiday as well as to spend time with family and friends. Although this blog was originally an assignment for school, I still enjoy researching interesting health topics and blogging about them on here. I’ll try to do a post every 10 days, but because this blog is no longer a priority I have to focus on my other academic studies before I can find time to blog. But I will continue searching for ways to improving this blog and I believe 2012 will have many great things in store!