As the mother of an inquisitive 4-year-old who seems to put everything in his mouth, my interest was immediately piqued when I saw a recent article. It said eating dirt is good for kids.
In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers said organisms like bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system, according to the article.
One researcher said that children raised in an ultra-clean environment are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.
Researchers stressed that intestinal worms, which have been all but eliminated in developed countries, are “likely to be the biggest player” in regulating the immune system to respond appropriately. Most worms are harmless, especially in well-nourished people, the researchers said. My first response was “ewwww!!” Then I felt somewhat relieved about all the times my son ate dirt before I could get to him.
– By Fran Jeffries
What do you think? Are you buying this ‘hygiene hypothesis’? Would you be okay with letting your child eat dirt? Are we being overprotective in keeping them so clean all the time?