Parents are always concerned about protecting their child from germs but a new study suggests exposure to germs can make their immune system stronger.
The study, published in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer, revealed that a childhood free of germs followed by infections in future can make them prone to childhood leukemia.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a common type of childhood cancer, can occur by genetic mutation before birth followed by exposure to certain infections later in childhood, after a clean early childhood.
“The research strongly suggests that (this cancer) has a clear biological cause, and is triggered by a variety of infections in predisposed children whose immune systems have not been properly primed,” professor and study author Mel Greaves was quoted as saying.
Paul Workman, chief executive, Institute of Cancer Research, London, added, “Preventing childhood leukemia would have a huge impact on the lives of children and their families in the UK and across the globe.”
“It’s also important to remember that infections themselves can pose a significant risk for young babies with a developing immune system,” said Sheena Cruickshank, British Society for Immunology.