Are you a Germaphobe?

Jenni - posted on 09/29/2011 ( 25 moms have responded )

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Little Madison Sukenik crawls around her Fort Lauderdale home, grabbing everything in sight, putting much of it in her mouth.

A piece of French toast that has fallen on the floor, a ball that her dog, Nugget, just chewed on, a shoe -- all get chomped on.

So are her parents freaked out? Running for the antibacterial mouthwash? No -- Michelle and Mark Sukenik are more than happy to let 14-month-old Madison crawl around the house, restaurants, even her doctor's office, and put her fingers and other objects into her mouth. In fact, Mark is a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist and he says exposure to germs will build up her immunity.

Now some immunology experts are beginning to agree that germs that many parents bleach and disinfect out of existence might help children.

"Hygiene hypothesis" holds that when babies are exposed to germs, it helps them fight allergies and asthma later.

The prevalence of allergies has increased substantially in the past 15 years, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and some experts believe that too much cleanliness might be a contributing factor.

Dr. Dennis Ownby, chief of allergy and immunology at the Medical College of Georgia, found in a study that babies in households with multiple pets have fewer allergies at age 6 or 7 not just to animals, but also to ragweed, grass and dust mites.

Ownby also said studies of babies in day care have found that while they have more infections early, they have fewer allergies and less wheezing later.

The Sukeniks say they know not every parent agrees with their easygoing lifestyle.

Michelle said she used to be a "germaphobe." When her husband would come home and hug Madison wearing the scrubs he had worn all day while treating sick kids, she said she was "mortified."

She was "grossed out" when Mark let Madison eat food right off the floor of his office.

But then she noticed that Madison wasn't getting sick. She didn't get her first cold until she was 13 months old while the children of friends who were meticulously clean were sick many times before their first birthday.

But Kara Sherry of Columbus, Ohio, says her kids are also rarely sick, and she's a self-described "clean freak."

She sanitizes the family's toothbrushes by putting them either in the dishwasher or boiling water.

When she goes grocery shopping, she wipes down the edges of the cart with antibacterial wipes before her children Sam, 3 ½, and Hayden, 5, climb in.

Her daughter Carleigh, almost 2, sits on a piece of fabric in the front of the grocery cart that covers the handle. Kara said she never touches the handle of a grocery cart, and would never let her children touch it either.

"Anything could be on that handle," she said. "Someone could have gone to the bathroom and not washed their hands, someone could have a cut on their hand. It could be staph, E. coli, it could be anything."

She said she does this out of "love and protection. I look at it as a way, as another way I protect my kids."

Ownby said studies don't show that Sherry is hurting her children, but that anything much more than basic hygiene like hand-washing isn't really necessary.

"It would be more than what I'd be willing to do in my own kitchen," he said."

http://articles.cnn.com/2006-04-05/healt...

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Are you a Germaphobe?
Are germs good or bad for kids?
What precautions do you take to avoid contamination?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Kate CP - posted on 09/29/2011

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I'm not a germaphobe but if something gets dropped on the floor at the MD's office or in the hospital it gets sanitized. There are some nasty, antibiotic resistant things lurking in those places.

I don't wipe the carts at the store, I don't carry sanitizer with me (unless we're traveling), my floor isn't spotless (honestly I can't remember the last time I mopped, but I vacuum or sweep every day). I do freak out if I see my 8 month old put a huge wad of Pyrenees fur in his mouth...but that's because I don't want to have to deal with fur balls. :P

Chelsey - posted on 09/29/2011

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Honestly I don't think about germs all that much. Obviously we wash our hands after going to the bathroom, before meals and before food preparation. I don't want my kids to lick the grocery carts or pick things up and stick it in their mouths when we are out, but they have and it doesn't seem to have affected them too much. My girls are 4 and almost 3 and have only been sick a handful of times and never sick enough to warrent a doctors appointment. Maybe we are just lucky lol

Minnie - posted on 09/29/2011

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I do believe that in combination with regular ingestion of healthy gut bacteria that eating a proper diet and getting exercise are very important to keeping a strong immune system. We make sure to eat healthy foods that keep up our vitamin A, K and B levels and take vitamin D supplements when necessary.

Jenni - posted on 09/29/2011

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I am far from being a Germaphobe. I think germs are helpful to building a healthy the immune system.

But of course I still take some precautions.



Fecal matter can be very dangerous and make us seriously ill. So Hand washing after using the bathroom is a must. Hand washing before we eat or before I prepare food. But other than that, germs are fair game in my house.



I wouldn't let my children put communal toys (like at a play place, friend's house or doctor's office) in their mouths, but that's more out of respect for other parents and children. I warn friends with kids that our toys go in our children's mouths. I do wash them when they look grungy but I'm not overly anal about it either.



Of course I wash dishes and bottles and such. But I try to avoid anti-bacterial soaps, cleaners, and medication (unless it's absolutely necessary).



Yeah... and I'm not easily grossed out.



My kids are rarely sick. My son is 3 and didn't get his first cold until he was 18 months. My kids maybe get one cold a year but symptoms are always short-lived (maybe 3-5 days). My son had one flu, a very acute flu with a low grade temp for 24 hours.



The most stupidest invention I've seen is a soap dispenser with a sensor so you don't have to touch that germ-infested soap dispenser. Uh, aren't you going to wash your hand right after you dispense the soap anyways?

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25 Comments

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JuLeah - posted on 10/01/2011

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Two extreems. I am somewhere in the middle. Germs are good. Too many or the wrong kind, not so good.

Janice - posted on 10/01/2011

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Germs don't bother me much. My precautions are like Emma N. My daughter definitely eats at least one goldfish or cereal off the floor almost daily :) I do use disinfecting cleaner on the counters and kitchen table but I'm not a nut about wiping things down every 2 minutes. We don't get sick often either. Although when my hubby or daughter get sick it does seem to last 2x as long as my illness but I'm assuming that's genetic.

The one place I am cautious is public bathrooms. I flush with my foot and turn the faucet off with a paper towel and open the door with my sleeve if possible.

Stifler's - posted on 09/29/2011

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I think my level of precautions against bacteria are pretty normal. Wiping surfaces regularly, washing hands after bathroom and before eating, washing dishes in hot water and air drying.



edited to add... we are never sick except for the odd cold, which almost everyone gets.

Stifler's - posted on 09/29/2011

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Not a germaphobe. Not at home anyway. Germs are germs, all the "sanitising " practises I've heard people go on about are a crock anyways, like the sensor soap and hand sanitiser smeared all over everything. Then you touch the door handle 50 other people with staph infections touched.

[deleted account]

Not a germaphobe. We don't use antibacterial products for the most part. I let my kids eat cereal off the kitchen floor. My one son once ate a handful of deer poop. My other son chewed on some cat poop. If I was a germaphobe, I think I would have died of a heart attack already. ;-)

Sarah - posted on 09/29/2011

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I used to be a germaphobe when my son was an infant, but then I opened my eyes & realized that I was only driving myself absolutely CRAZY! A good portion of my day was consumed with sanitizing, obsessive hand washing, and worrying about every little germ or disease that my son could *potentially* pick up.

Now that my son is 2, I have learned to stop stressing over every little thing. So what if he accidentally drinks out of the wrong sippy cup at playgroup? So what if he sticks his hands in his mouth after touching the playground equipment? I can't go running after him every second of every day wiping his hands & squirting them with sanitizer. It's not realistic & I have chosen not to make myself miserable over the whole thing anymore.

Johnny - posted on 09/29/2011

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Neat freak? Yes. Germaphobe? No. I never use all that anti-bacterial stuff, soap and water does the trick. I dont' lysol anything ever, just baking soda & vinegar. I tend to agree with the doctor that exposure to germs is a good thing generally, unless you are immune-compromised. I've never wiped handles or surfaces when I'm out, I only used a shopping seat cover on the ones at my local store because my daughter's butt would hurt from their cart design (ouch wire poky). And the only time I use hand sanitizer is when we are going to visit my 94 year old grandmother, for her protection.

Rosie - posted on 09/29/2011

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i am a germaphobe as of this year...but only in regards to things that i touch that the general public has come in contact with, or sick people have come in contact with.

i have spent countless times in the doctors office this past year, i've spent so much time off of work, and so much money lost it's ridiculous. i am refusing to be like that this year dammit!!! so i keep my hand sanitizer with me wherever i go, and i'm constantly washing my hands. i have also resorted to taking vitamins, drinking green tea, drinking kefir, and taking probiotics in hopes to help my immune system.

now, for messes around my house? nah, there's more than a five second rule here, lol. i do wipe things off with disinfectant wipes every now and then, but i'm not completely anal about it.

and lmao@ teresa and chicken poop! you can't escape it there can you?? ;)

Sarah - posted on 09/29/2011

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I'm definitely not a germaphobe!
Seems like an awful lot of effort to sanitise everything all the time!

Lady Heather - posted on 09/29/2011

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Definitely not a germaphobe. We use mostly homemade cleaning products. I've got pets rolling in and out of here. Not every crumb that lands on the floor gets noticed very quickly. ha. We do handwashing of course, with non anti-bacterial soap. The anti-bacterial thing is getting crazy. Why do I need an anti-bacterial toothbrush?

Freja doesn't get sick but I wonder how much of that is a) she doesn't spend too much time around big groups of other kids so her exposure is limited and b) I don't get sick so maybe there's a genetic component.

[deleted account]

Germaphobe? Me? hahahahaha... Not even close.

Germs are good. I never LET my kids put gross things in their mouths (like the cigarette butts and chicken poop) and of course fished them out when it happened, but they never got sick from it... Thankfully.

Precautions? Try not to let them get a hold of nasty stuff, but that's about it.

Krista - posted on 09/29/2011

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I always liked to just be able to take a diaper and my wallet and stuff it in the pocket of the carrier, while other mothers were toting XL- size luggage diaper bags with them. What a drag, lol.

Indeed. I only used the big bag if it was a long day or overnight trip. If it was a short trip, I had a nice little sling bag. When out and about, we'd use the canned, premixed formula, so I'd pop a couple of cans in there, along with however many bottle nipples and liners I needed, and one Playtex bottle sleeve. Add a few diapers and a pack of wipes, and off we went. If I'd been able to nurse, I could have easily just gotten away with tucking a few diapers and wipes in my purse.

Elfrieda - posted on 09/29/2011

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I am careful at doctor's offices and in hospitals, I don't really like to take my son there, and certainly don't want him crawling on the floor or licking the toys. People go there BECAUSE they're sick. I think of them as very germy places.



At home or in the grocery store, meh. The only hand sanitizer we own is many years old, and lives in the car for those emergency stops at the side of the road. Even wipes are over the top for me, although when his teether fell in a restaurant or the store, I'd rinse or wipe it before giving it back.



I don't really like my son to lick the cat (he tried it), eat flies, or munch on dirt, but how can I stop him without ruining his life/cooping him up unreasonably? He's actually quite a healthy kid, but that might be genetics. I'm never sick.



I don't worry at all about eating off the floor. If he throws his food on the floor, my husband and I refer to it as "the second course" because once he's out of his chair, he'll crawl around and eat it.



To me, it just seems like women who worry so much about germs are adding to their stress levels unnecessarily. I've got enough on my plate.

Becky - posted on 09/29/2011

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Nope, definitely not a germophobe! Like others, I don't let my kids put toys in their mouth at places like dr's offices and Sunday school or pick up food off the floor anywhere but at home (and I don't keep my floors spotless either!) I bought a shopping cart cover, but couldn't figure it out, so we've never used it! I try to wipe down the handle in winter at least, but often forget. We wash our hands after playing outside, using the bathroom, etc. My kids have gotten things like hand, foot, and mouth disease and C Diff bacteria (that one is a complete mystery to me where he got it.), but they recover quickly. They've never been hospitalized or had to be on antibiotics for anything. Heck, I grew up in Africa, which is the opposite of clean and germ-free, and I"m almost never sick!
However, despite my fondness for germs, my youngest still has a peanut allergy. :(

Minnie - posted on 09/29/2011

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I never had that problem, just popped the tot in the carrier on my back :).

I should think a wipe would be sufficient. I agree, those cart covers are just one extra thing to carry. I always liked to just be able to take a diaper and my wallet and stuff it in the pocket of the carrier, while other mothers were toting XL- size luggage diaper bags with them. What a drag, lol.

Krista - posted on 09/29/2011

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I couldn't be arsed with the grocery cart protectors. I had enough stuff to shlep as it was. I'd just give it a damn good going over with the wipes they provide at the store, and would then keep stopping him from sucking on it.

Jenni - posted on 09/29/2011

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Yeah, my kids would try to suck on the grocery cart handles as well. lol I also stopped them.
But what about those grocery cart protectors? Not sure what they're called. But when I see them, I always think they're a little over the top. Does anyone else think they're a bit unnecessary?

I also forgot to add that I understand if there is an issue with an immune disorder or other extenuating circumstances.

Krista - posted on 09/29/2011

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I take the normal precautions, I'd say, but I'm definitely not a germophobe. In my house, where I know how clean the floors are, I'm okay with the 5-second rule. But if we're out in public, then no...I don't want him putting stuff in his mouth. He used to have a bad habit of trying to suck on shopping cart handles, of all things!!!

Jenni - posted on 09/29/2011

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Funny though, the one time our family got deathly ill is when we caught a virus in the 'sterile' hospital after I gave birth to my daughter. All of us adults were deathly ill. My husband, me, my parents, my husband's parents.

My son had no symptoms until he suddenly threw up. (meanwhile I was barfing my guts out for 24 hours) and that was it. No temperature, no lethargy like us adults were experiencing, other than the one time he got sick he had no other symptoms.

My NB daughter didn't catch it, luckily! I'd like to think that it was because I was breastfeeding. ;)

Minnie - posted on 09/29/2011

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I'm fairly certain that both of my girls have a good population of healthy bacteria in their guts.

Let's just say they must ingest a good mouthful of soil a day, lol.

Most people are squicked out at the sorts of things we eat and we've never been sick at all from them. The last time my five and a half year old was sick was when she turned one, and it was from her MMR. I haven't been sick in years, my three year old has yet to be sick.

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