Thumb suckers and nail biters have fewer allergies

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Plazma Inferno!, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Thumb sucking and nail biting both worry parents a lot: they worry about damage to teeth, about infections, and about teasing from other children.
    Now a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says that there may actually be benefits to having your fingers in your mouth.
    As part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, researchers in New Zealand followed about a thousand people born in 1972-1973 out until their 38th birthday. When they were 5, 7, 9 and 11 the researchers asked their parents if they sucked their thumbs or bit their nails.
    When they tested at 13 for allergies to common things such as dust, grass, cats, dogs and molds, they found that 38% of those who had an “oral habit” tested positive — whereas 49% of those who didn’t suck their thumbs or bite their nails tested positive. This “protection” was still there at 32.
    This fits with the “hygiene hypothesis,” which says that when children are exposed to germs early in life, their immune system gets trained to attack germs, rather than attacking itself as we see in allergies, asthma, and eczema (of note, the researchers didn’t find protection against asthma or hay fever, and didn’t report a measure of eczema). This hypothesis doesn’t explain everything we see about allergies and other examples of the body attacking itself, but it certainly may play a role — and when kids suck their thumbs or bite their nails, they do put all sorts of new germs into their mouths and therefore their bodies.

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