Play in the Mud, Stop Allergies?

Around the world, allergies are on the rise. The number of children in the United States with food allergies doubled between 1997 and 2002. In the UK, rates of allergies among children have tripled in the last decade.

Pinpointing a cause for this trend is difficult. Research has indicated that everything from climate change to invasion species, pollution to better diagnostic practices could be responsible for the increasing commonality of allergies. Now, new research suggests that excessive cleanliness at an early age could make children more susceptible to allergies later in life.

The study, conducted at the School of Medicine at University of California, San Diego, found that exposure to Staphylococci, a common bacteria, was important for reducing skin inflammation around wounds. The findings indicate that exposure to some bacteria is a desirable, if not essential, part of the natural healing process.

Experts have also stated that the findings offer clear scientific support for the “hygiene hypothesis.” The hypothesis argues that exposure to bacteria and other germs early in life “primes” the body to resist allergens and helps kids develop a robust immune system later in life. Keeping kids clean, advocates say, prevents them for developing the resistances they need to become healthy adults.

Though more science is needed before any definitive prescriptions are handed out, it’s likely that mud pies, runny noses, and shared ice cream cones do more good for kids than harm.

By David DeFranza, Planet Green

135 comments

Stephanie Reap
Stephanie Reap3 years ago

I always knew playing the dirt was good for you ;)

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby3 years ago

ty

Abbe A.
Azaima A.4 years ago

good news

Paola Paniagua
Paola Paniagua4 years ago

I KNEW IT! I'm going to print this out and hand it to everyone who forced me to wear shoes outside! :D

aj E.
aj E.4 years ago

interesting.

KS Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

NICKY MELVILLE
NICKY MELVILLE4 years ago

There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, but when I was a child THOUSANDS of years ago.. NO children were forced to live in a virtually sterlised world like they are today and allergies were very rare indeed. My children were allowed to play in the dirt as much as they liked and had NO allergies, but my granddaughter and many of her friends who are into the total cleanliness kick nearly ALL have allergies. A great proportion of farm children out here in Australia have no allergies to animals even 'though they are normally COVERED in mud and worse, but many are allergic to MILK! I have worked with children most of my adult life and have found that the children who play in the mud seem to have a MUCH healthier immune system. If you are worried about your children picking up worms and nasties well.. first of all teach your littles not to experiment with tasting cat poos and if you have dogs around...worm them well and either get your children to eat LOADS of garlic in their food and other anti-worm herbs, or give them a regualr dose of Combatrum!!!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.4 years ago

Play in the mud, get infected with parasites!

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

Thanks Megan.

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies4 years ago

Always knew a little dirt did no harm, but if you are forced to live in dirty conditions that is a different matter.