Eye on Health: Children And Dirt - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Eye on Health: Children And Dirt

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Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails...

"He likes to play in the dirt. He likes to rough house," says Julie Fink, mother of 2-year-old son.

Sugar and spice and everything nice.

"She doesn't dive down and get in the dirt. She'll skip around in the yard," says Ann Burgoyne, who has a 2-year-old daughter.

All that keeping clean may actually affect the health of little girls.

"Look, if you're ok having your little boy play in the dirt, you should be okay having your little girl go and play out in the dirt as well," says Sharon Clough, Philosopher at Oregon State University.

In her research, Clough notes that women have higher rates of allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune disorders, like lupus.

"So lupus, women outnumber men 9 to 1," says Clough.

Clough believes all that focus on keeping girls clean, May be part of the reason.

"Little boys are more often than little girls encouraged to play in the dirt. Little girls are dressed in clothing that's not supposed to get dirty," says Clough.

All that dirt and all that bacteria that comes with it, appears to build a healthier immune system.

"There is some thought that getting exposed to things even parasites and different microbial elements in the dirt, might actually improve the overall immunity that a child develops," says Dr. Aoi Mizushima, who practices family medicine.

Dr. Mizushima notes that years ago, kids would easily spend three to four hours playing outside. That time, on average, has significantly decreased while auto immune disorders are on the rise.

"In the past 50 years, there's been a 400% increase in allergies, and hay fever, and asthma," says Dr. Mizushima.

And that's why at the Providence Wee Care Day Care it's all about the mud pit.

"We always tell parents the kids are going to get dirty. That's just part of the work of childhood," says day care worker Colette Brown.

Girls and boys are given rubber boots, shovels, and plenty of mud. Steps that could help keep girls and boys healthier in the long run.

Clough adds, that if society trends continue to change and boys and girls both start spending more time inside, then we could expect to see an increase in allergies, asthma, and other auto-immune disorders in everyone.

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