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Exposure to bleach linked to child infections, says new study

By Jennifer Cockerell

Published 03/04/2015

Passive exposure to bleach at home has been linked to higher rates of infection in children, according to new research. Picture posed
Passive exposure to bleach at home has been linked to higher rates of infection in children, according to new research. Picture posed

Passive exposure to bleach at home has been linked to higher rates of infection in children, according to new research.

A study led by the University of Leuven in Belgium found the chance of an episode of flu was 20% higher and recurrent tonsillitis 35% greater among children whose parents used bleach to clean their home.

Similarly, the risk of any recurrent infection was 18% higher among children of regular bleach users.

Researchers said "the high frequency of use of disinfecting cleaning products - caused by erroneous belief, reinforced by advertising, that our homes should be free of microbes - makes the modest effects reported in our study of public health concern".

They calculated the results by looking at the potential impact of exposure to bleach in the homes of more than 9,000 children between the ages of six and 12 attending more than 50 different schools in the Netherlands, Finland and Spain.

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