Asthma is on the rise. And has been for a couple of decades. At first it was thought the increase was because we’re just too clean. Kids aren’t exposed to enough germs to develop a strong enough immune system. Some studies now, though, are saying increased hygiene may not be responsible for the rise in asthma. So, the jury’s still out on that one.
However, according to a study discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine, it seems that growing up with animals is linked to a reduced risk of developing asthma. Having a dog growing up may reduce it about 13%. So, get the kids a dog. But growing around farm animals lowers the risk 52%! Get the kids a horse! Well, that may not be practical, but you get the idea.
Over-hygiene may still be a factor. Like I said, the jury seems to still be out. But researchers do still think it’s a factor in the startling increase in allergies among children.
Do you think kids are a little over-protected today? Kids have always eaten dirt. They’ve been doing it since kids were invented! A baby’s natural instinct seems to get dirty. I remember my 9-month-old nephew sitting in the dirt at a playground, eating leaves. We were usually fast enough to stop him from actually swallowing them, but even if they didn’t get into his mouth, his fingers did, so he was eating dirt. (But I still had to wash my hands before I touched him. Never understood that.)
You take your kids grocery shopping with you these days and they never have to touch the cart. Dirt is a kid’s natural environment. Let ’em get dirty! Stop wiping out every germ that comes anywhere near a child. Give them a chance to develop healthy immune systems.
Now, those of us baby boomers who are still alive did manage to live through the lack of car seats, but I do think insisting on them now is a very good idea. But really, did anyone ever die from touching a grocery cart?