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Dirt Don't Hurt

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Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: A few days ago, my toddler licked the bathroom floor. I shrieked. Maybe I shouldn't have. He could've chugged the toilet water and been a healthier boy for it. Turns out that yucky stuff is good for you.

baby boy with ball in his mouth

According to new studies, popping pieces of dog poop in your mouth helps build a hearty immune system and the adventurous taster shouldn't be stopped, according to several new studies.

"What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment," Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her new book, "Why Dirt Is Good" and the New York Times reported. "Not only does this allow for 'practice' of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored."

When your little one eats some dirt, he also gets a healthy dose of bacteria, viruses and worms (yes, worms!) that help strengthen his immune system. When we slather our kids' hands with Purell, scrub our bathrooms with every cleanser concocted by Mr. Clean's scientists, it creates an environment devoid of organisms that build up resistance. The result? A prevalence of autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.

I don't consider myself a germ Nazi - I don't even own a bottle of Purell and I've never wiped the handle of my shopping cart with a wet wipe. I confess I've forgotten to wash my son's hands before lunch. But even I have my limits. Dog poop? My son brings home a new virus from daycare every week for my husband and me to try. Even so, I worry I'm not doing enough to toughen up his immune system. Maybe I should offer him a cup next time he eyes the toilet bowl.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kris February 2, 2009, 4:48 PM

Im not sure about the dog poop but I too believe its good for kids to be exposed to germs.

Terri Lee February 2, 2009, 6:25 PM

I remember making mud pies as a child and playing in the bushes and ivy covered slopes in my neighborhood with no negative results. It distresses me that so many parents are convinced that they need to sterilize the home and other common environments with chemicals and such. This is unnatural and possibly toxic at extreme levels. Hey…let your kids be kids. Right on-Dirt Don’t Hurt!

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