hygiene hypothesis

Main Entry:  hygiene hypothesis
Part of Speech:  n
Definition:  a theory that children not exposed to bacteria and dirt develop weak immune systems and are prone to adult allergies, asthma, etc.
Example:  The hygiene hypothesis was developed to explain the observation that hay fever and eczema, both allergic diseases, were less common in children from larger families, which were presumably exposed to more infectious agents through their siblings.
Etymology:  1989
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