The Hygiene Hypothesis Explained - Backgrounder
The Hygiene Hypothesis: Consensus Statement from the Hygiene Council
The Hygiene Council has reviewed the evidence and concludes that there is no scientific evidence to support the Hygiene Hypothesis. The practice of increased hygiene such as hand washing and surface disinfection has been scientifically shown to reduce infection and decrease levels of illness and mortality and does not correlate with any increase in atopic (allergic) diseases.
While it is recognised that some exposure to microbes is an important step in the process of ‘natural immunization’, exposure to harmful pathogens that can cause disease is unnecessary and preventable. Based on this reasoning, the Hygiene Council agrees that the term ‘Microbial Deprivation Hypothesis’ would be a better description of the theory currently known as the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’.
The practice of good hygiene and targeted disinfection is critical with regards to disease prevention; it can truly be said that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.