Is your kid`s musical hobby making him sick?

Last Updated: Mar 16, 2011, 09:15 AM IST

Washington: Playing a musical instrument can help nourish, cultivate and increase intelligence in children, but playing a used instrument also can pose a potentially dangerous health risk.

Used woodwind and brass instruments were found to be heavily contaminated with a variety of bacteria and fungi, causing minor and major infectious and allergic diseases.

"Many children participate in their school`s band ensemble and often the instruments they play are on loan," said lead study author R. Thomas Glass, professor of forensic sciences, Oklahoma State University, reports the journal General Dentistry.

"Most of these instruments have been played by other students, and without proper sanitation, bacteria and fungi can thrive for weeks and even months after the last use."

A total of 117 different sites, including the mouthpieces, internal chambers and cases, were tested on 13 previously played instruments of a high school band.

Six of the instruments had been played within a week of testing, while seven hadn`t been touched in about one month, according to an Oklahoma statement.

The instruments produced 442 different bacteria, many of which were species of Staphylococcus, which can cause staph infections. Additionally, 58 moulds and 19 yeasts were identified.

"Parents may not realise that the mould in their child`s instrument could contribute to the development of asthma," Glass said.

Additionally, the yeasts on the instruments commonly cause skin infections around the mouth and lips.

IANS