Microbes In Your Child’s Saliva…And All Over Your Home
Giraffe: “Oh gross, where has that mouth been?”
Parents of young children, particularly under the age of 10, be warned. You might think your home is fairly standard for toddlers…but it’s not always the small ones getting sick. You might be sharing more microbes than you think.
“The human microbiome is the name given to the collected communities of bacteria that live on and in the human body. The oral microbiome is one of the most diverse of any human-associated microbial community,” is the first line from the study released on Tuesday from mBio®.
The result? Our households are having an impact on salivary microbes in our mouth. An even greater impact, it would seem, than our very genetic makeup.
“The oral cavity is naturally colonized by hundreds of bacterial species, which stop external pathogens from establishing a foothold,” said Liam Shaw, a graduate student with UCL Genetics Institute, “but they also can themselves cause oral disease.”
Which oral diseases? Primarily Streptococcus, responsible for strep throat, pink eye, meningitis, bacterial pneumonia, endocarditis, erysipelas, and necrotizing fasciitis (the ‘flesh-eating’ bacterial infections), Rothia, which can cause disease in humans and immunosuppressed humans, Neisseria (meningitis, gonorrhea) , and Prevotella (found in anaerobic infections, and could cause pneumonia, lung abscess, pulmonary empyema, and chronic otitis media and sinusitis).
The concern, of course, is due not so much to the bacteria themselves, but the spread of said bacteria. Which is shared primarily in “spouses, parents, and children under 10.” It’s believed that increase independence in children decreases the amount of shared bacteria. And there’s probably a notable decrease in drool or hands in mouths.
Says Adam P. Roberts, senior lecturer in antimicrobial chemotherapy and resistance at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, “The contact doesn’t even have to be intimate, like kissing. Individuals’ hands are covered in saliva and they are touching everything in the house.”
Microbe: Strep/Pink Eye hybrid. Source: Like, everything in your kids room.
When posed against city, age, and genetic relatedness, household trumped all three when determining shared saliva microbes.
So maybe a few extra Clorox wipes here and there couldn’t hurt.
Here’s the study: http://mbio.asm.org/content/8/5/e01237-17.full