Kids Need Dirt. For Real! For their HEALTH!

Hi Readers — A bunch of you have been digging (har har) this story about how much protection our kids get from DIRT. This explains my philosophy of housekeeping!

Er…I mean: This explains my philosophy of childrearing. Anyway, here’s a bit of the article, by Murrray Wardrop,  in The Telegraph. (For some reason this story got more play in Britain than the U.S.):

Scientists have discovered that bacteria on the surface of the skin play an important role in combating inflammation when we get hurt.

The bugs dampen down overactive immune responses, which can lead to rashes or cause cuts and bruises to become swollen and painful.

The findings support previous research which suggests that exposure to germs during early childhood can prime the immune system to prevent allergies.

The so-called “hygiene hypothesis” has previously been used to explain why increasing numbers of children suffer allergies such as eczema and hay fever in more developed countries.

Parenting groups yesterday welcomed the findings as “a vindication of common sense” and urged parents to allow their children greater freedom to play outdoors.

Experts at the University of California at San Diego made the discovery by studying mice and human cells cultured in their laboratory.

The team, led by dermatologist Professor Richard Gallo, found that common bacteria called staphylococci, can reduce inflammation after injury, when they are present on the skin’s surface.

Prof Gallo said: “These germs are actually good for us.”

Of course, most Free-Rangers and other sensible folk suspected this all along. (And my book discusses it, too, in the chapter, “Germs, Anti-Germs & Shopping Cart Liners.”) But it’s nice when a new study comes along and explains WHY dirt and kids go so well together.

And why I’ve decided to sit here and blog rather than get out the mop. — Lenore