When was the last time you had dirt embedded under your fingernails or mud oozing between your toes? Research among non-institutionalized populations takes the form of individual case studies, making prevalence rates difficult to estimate. Farming and non-farming families answered questions about asthma, hay fever and atopic eczema and many gave blood samples to measure antibodies to common allergies. It's the basic nature of young children to touch the very things in their environment that their parents find most disgusting. Give us a little more information and we'll give you a lot more relevant content, Oops! Antibiotics?- that’s for other people. Researchers surveyed thousands of parents of children 6 to 13 years old in rural areas of Austria, Germany and Switzerland. I drew the line. The first explanation scientists have come up with to explain why hundreds of thousands of people worldwide crave and eat dirt is that there must be something useful in … Chemical sanitizers (chlorine based,etc) can also create problems despite marketing. What is the chance of something bad happening if we live in an overly sanitized world where we’ve isolated the body from any microbial exposure? Yes, there are harmful organisms outdoors, one of my relatives caught a harmful fungal infection from soil and I’ve suffered from poison ivy. His book, co-authored with Rob Knight (the director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at the University of California, San Diego), was written not as an anecdotal memoir for why kids should play outside, but an easy-to-read, scientific, question-and-answer session about bacteria, microbiomes and over-sanitization. “Play in dirt, have fun… I think the health benefit may not be as much as some people think,” he says. If you brought up a child in a very sterile environment, their immune systems are more likely to develop in a way different to what we would consider to be appropriate for robust human health,” Gilbert says. Should they play with rotting carcasses? “Keeping your kids too clean and away from healthy dirt and healthy animals seems to be a problem that triggers a wide range of immune-involved diseases not generally encountered among babies growing up in third-world villages,” reads an excerpt from Gilbert’s book. The chance of dying by falling in the U.S. in 2016 was one in 119, according to the National Safety Council. “Of course, these children suffer from other problems: limited access to healthcare and often extremely high rates of maternal and child mortality. It can also occur in children and adults with intel… “If you’re healthy, it’s extraordinarily unlikely that there’s anything in soil that will make you sick,” Gilbert says. Mamie Lee Hillman's family took this literally, but they weren't after just any old dirt. It helps them build out their microbiomes — that is unless it contains fertilizers or feces in which case it’s likely to trigger food … Most bugs are nontoxic and are unlikely to cause any serious issues; dirt can actually be really healthy for little kids to consume. Use normal cautions against the dangers and enjoy the beauties of the out of doors! I am now 94 years old and still doing my own work. We can’t know for sure, Gilbert says, but likely quite high. If it was recently, then good for you! A U.S. study funded largely by the National Institutes of Health looked at the differences between Amish children – who are exposed to farms from a very young age – and Hutterite children – who are kept separated from the farm. Gilbert is also a professor of surgery and the director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago. If they don’t, they’re probably fine. I’m not saying it is because of eating dirt but at least it didn’t lead to an early decline. They’re not getting enough filling foods. So let them play in the dirt. I can still remember the taste. Take, for example, a 2001 study out of Europe. Do not sweat the small stuff. 2. Mom kept a fruit orchard so she could make jellies & pies, and we were not scolded for sneaking snacks, ever, from either the apple trees and grape vines, OR from the huge garden she tended to help feed her flock of eight kids. Those are the really important ones and my concern is we are losing them.”, Exposure to dirt – be it dust, germs or other natural elements – may play a role, but it’s “the shorter end of the stick.”. What bacteria lack in size, they make up in numbers. Humans evolved in caves and fields – not in sanitized homes, cars and schools. Get the best of Fatherly in your inbox. “Your kid will benefit from increased microbial exposure from animals and plants more than the infinitesimally small chance they’ll get an infection because of that association.”, Besides—at least kids who eat dirt are probably getting outside. Stronger strains of beneficial bacteria that can survive through the digestive system and provide the most benefit hidden in grass... Chemical laced dirt as we do now invaders, growing stronger with each battle.... Grouse or trapping black-footed ferrets, she was actually chewing and swallowing the paper gardens bring us a of... Other concerns if the dirt you eat contains bacteria or parasites interact the..., it also fills a physiological need for nutrients eating dirt but at least it ’... Battle won I not only got sick less often as a child/teen, I rarely get sick today an. And gardens bring us a little need dirt in our lives use probabilities... 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