Study says ball pits are crawling with infection-causing germs

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Ball Pits Crawling with Infection-Causing Germs, Study Says

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A March 2019 study from the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega supports the belief of many parents that ball pits are contaminated with germs, dirt and other unpleasant things.

According to new research published in the American Journal of Infection Control, a very small study shows ball pits commonly used in pediatric physical therapy have disease-causing bacteria.

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Researchers examined six ball pits in inpatient or outpatient physical therapy clinics in Georgia. Nine to 15 balls were randomly pulled from each ball pit at different depths.

Bacteria was found in high numbers on each ball, meaning there is an increased chance of contamination or disease.

“We found considerable variation in the number of microorganisms between the different ball pit samples,” Mary Ellen Oesterle, the study’s lead researcher and the department head of the Physical Therapy Department in the College of Health Sciences and Professions at UNG, said. “This suggests that clinics utilize different protocols for cleaning and maintenance, potentially representing a broader need to clarify and establish standards that reduce the risk of transmission.”

Some of the bacteria found can cause meningitis, urinary tract infections, sepsis and pneumonia.

Karen Hoffmann, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, said the study indicates that facilities should have a standardized program for regular cleaning of ball pits to limit infection risks.

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