You may be surprised by the things that are found in children’s play places. Or maybe you wouldn’t. 😉 A new study has shown that the ball pits used by children in physical therapy clinics may be relative petri dishes for many microorganisms, including those linked to certain blood infections, sepsis and even meningitis.
New study reveals that ball pits used by children in physical therapy clinics may be petri dishes for many microorganisms
Scientists at the University of North Georgia found significant bacterial colonization in ball pits at six separate clinical locations. Nine of these microbes are opportunistic infections – infections that cause illness in individuals who are susceptible to getting sick.
Ball pits have been around since the ’80s
Ball pits have been around since the 1980s, when they were popularized at fast food chain restaurants in play areas for children. Most fast food chains have retired the ball pits due to the difficulty of keeping them sanitary – they tend to collect dirt, urine, feces, vomit and other debris. Included in this list are numerous bacterial species found in normal human microbiomes, as well as opportunistic pathogens such as staphylococcus aureus.
These ball pits are also used in physical therapy clinics. They are intended to provide stimulation for children who have sensory processing or movement disorders. It’s likely that these pits need stricter cleaning standards.
Days, even weeks in some cases, go by between cleanings
According to lead author Dobrusia Bialonska and colleagues, “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.” They also note that the risk of infection is increased, should a child already have skin lesions or abrasions.
Human-associated bacteria identified the following
Among the human-associated bacteria identified were Enterococcus faecalis, which is known to cause septicemia, meningitis, and urinary tract infections; Staphylococcus homini which can cause bloodstream infections and Streptococcus oralis, which is known to cause infective endocarditis and streptococcal shock.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.