Letting kids get dirty is actually great for their health!
Exposure to dirt and germs helps children’s immune systems. Jack Gilbert, Ph.D., a scientist who studies microbial ecosystems at the University of Chicago—and a father of two who continually faced messy situations—looked into the effects of those potential germs on little bodies for a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
“It turned out that most of the exposures were actually beneficial,” he told NPR’s Weekend Edition.
“So that dirty dummy that fell on the floor—if you just stick it in your mouth and lick it, and then pop it back in little Tommy’s mouth, it’s actually going to stimulate their immune system. Their immune system’s going to become stronger because of it.”
The co-author of Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System, Gilbert said his bigger concerns is with the extreme sanitisation we see today.
“It’s fine to wash their hands if there’s a cold or a flu virus around, but if they’re interacting with a dog, and the dog licks their face, that’s not a bad thing,” Gilbert said. “In fact that could be extremely beneficial for the child’s health.”
Gilbert also cited a study of more than 300,000 children, which showed children of mums in the habit of licking off dirty dummy’s actually had lower rates of asthma, allergies and eczema. As he said, “Overall, their health was stronger and more robust.”
So let the kids go crazy and have some fun getting grubby!
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