There is an unsuspecting germ-fuelled area that you might not be aware of that could make your child very sick.
As parents, we would do anything to ensure our kids are always fit and healthy, keeping them warm, making sure they wash their hands, and ensuring they eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
However, there is an unsuspecting germ-fuelled area that your child probably loves but could actually make them very sick.
A study by the University of North Georgia found that there is one particular area in kids’ play centre that is harbouring germs and nasties, and you might want to re-consider sending your kids in it to play, no matter how much they may love it!
Experts at the university found that ball pits, you know the area with all those little plastic balls, are one of the filthiest places to play in, especially when not regularly cleaned.
Researchers looked at a number of ball pits around America and found that they contained more than 31 various kinds of bacteria.
The study, which was published in The American Journal of Infection Control, found that some of the pits hadn’t been cleaned in a long time which is why so many germs were present, including bacteria that causes meningitis, blood infections and even UTIs.
"Among human-associated bacteria, Enterococcus faecalis can cause endocarditis, septicemia, urinary tract infections, and meningitis," the study reveals. "Staphylococcus hominis can cause bloodstream infections, and it was reported as a cause of sepsis in a neonatal intensive care unit.
"Streptococcus oralis is known to cause endocarditis, adult respiratory distress syndrome, and streptococcal shock. Acinetobacter lwofii was reported to cause septicemia, pneumonia, meningitis, urinary tract, and skin infections."
A lack of regular cleaning was cited as the main reason so many germs were found harbouring in the ball pits.
“Accordingly, clinics may go days or even weeks between cleanings, which may allow time for microorganisms to accumulate and grow to levels capable of transmission and infection,” the study reveals.
"This risk increases if the individual has skin lesions or abrasions, providing a portal of entry for immunocompromised individuals in general."
While the study is based on ball pits in America, it is advisable that you check with the staff of any play centre when the ball pit was last cleaned.
Written by Mary Byrne, Content Executive at Family Friendly HQ. Follow her on Twitter: @marybyrne321