Worried about keeping your kids healthy? Not being dirty enough could be the problem. New research shows excessive hygiene might lead to the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

A study conducted by the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology at TU Graz has found that highly controlled spaces which are kept excessively clean have an increased rate of antibiotic resistance in microbes. It also found that spaces which were excessively clean were prone to decreased microbial diversity.

photo: Nicole De Khors via Burst

The researchers compared highly clean environments, like hospital intensive care units, with regular environments, like people’s homes, which are affected by the surrounding environment.

“In environments with strong microbial control in the intensive care unit and industrially used clean rooms, there are increasing antibiotic resistances which show a high potential for combining with pathogens,” Alexander Mahnert, director of studies at the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology of TU Graz, who is currently conducting research at the Medical University of Graz, said in a statement.

The researchers highlighted certain steps to maintaining and improving microbial diversity, which in turn lessens antibiotic resistance. Regular airing of the space, houseplants and the reduction of antibacterial cleaning agents were among the things the team suggested.

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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