Dirt, It May Do a Toddler Good

Julie Ryan Evans

child eating dirt
Photo by NonnieJ
At the park, in the front yard, in my own home ... I can think of more than a few times I've scooped dirt out of my toddler daughter's black-toothed mouth.

For such picky eaters, it's beyond me why children would actually eat dirt of all things (yummy peach no; gritty soil, sure!), but perhaps they're onto something.

A study in the Philippines shows that eating dirt in childhood may have cardiovascular benefits later in life and protect against strokes and heart attacks.

Let them eat dirt?!

"It raises the intriguing possibility that higher levels of exposure to infectious microbes early in life may, in some way, protect you against cardiovascular disease," Thom McDade, co-author of the study, told the Chicago Tribune.

Step away from the hand sanitizer?

McDade is a supporter of the "hygiene hypothesis," which states that all the hand washing and hand sanitizing we do these days is actually doing more harm than good and is perhaps linked to increases in things like asthma and allergies we've seen in recent years.

I flip flop between being a serial sanitizing germaphobe and someone who will pick up my daughter's pacifier from a department store floor and give it back to her with a mere brush on my jeans to "clean" it. I do think it's good for kids to be exposed to some dirt and bacteria and try to be nonchalant most of the times; but then I read about a case of MRSA, and I want to sanitize the world.

So while the verdict is still out in the medical field as a whole, this study at least makes me feel a little less guilty about the dirty floors in my house.

How much do you try to sanitize your child's environment?

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