Balls pits are ridden with bacteria causing dangerous health risks to children, including skin infections, pneumonia and meningitis, scientists find.
Public ball pits are play areas every child has probably visited, at least once – a perfect hiding place for children to get lost in the rainbow coloured pits.
However, new research has found that the ball pits are in fact teeming with dangerous bacteria linked to bladder infections, meningitis (opens in new tab), blood stream infections, and sepsis.
Scientists at the University of North Carolina tested balls from several pall pit play areas and found a shocking number of 31 different kinds of bacteria present on the balls.
No matter how much your little tots love the play areas – scientists suggest the areas should be avoided.
The dirtiest ball pit contained on average 170,818 bacteria, according to the study.
The bacteria found can lead to an alarming number of diseases, ranging from bladder infections, to even heart lining and blood stream infections.
This frightening revelation has led to researchers warning that sterilising and decontamination practices need to be consistent in the play areas, to ensure children are not exposed to such dangerous germs.
The bacteria found was linked to plants, food, water and dirt.
In addition to the bacteria, the research also uncovered yeast in the pits, which causes fungal infections to those with weaker immune systems (opens in new tab).
The study was carried out in ball pits from six different physical therapy centres. So, if ball pits in clinical environments, such as these, are ridden with dangerous germs, we hate to think what dirty conditions other frequently used public facilities are in.
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Although a child’s favourite play area, the pits are now viewed as a parent’s nightmare, with some ball pits visibly ridden with food, urine, vomit and faeces.
All these can cause the spread of bacteria affecting children’s vulnerable immune systems – perhaps it’s time to find a different play activity for children’s school holidays...