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The Unexpected Upside To Thumb Sucking And Nail Biting

Tom Page

If you had a nickel for every time you told your kid to take their fingers out of their mouth, you’d have enough money to buy them a clean pair of hands. Whether it’s thumb sucking or nail biting, kids always find ways to get germs into their mouth and you can’t win every battle. Fortunately a study recently published in the journal of Pediatrics says there may be an upside: fewer allergies.

The 3 decades of research followed over 1,000 New Zealand children who enrolled in the study at birth. About 31 percent of them were guilty of nail biting or thumb sucking between the ages 5 and 11, but these kids were also about a third less likely to develop allergies by the time they reached age 13. This pattern was consistent up until the age of 32 (the lack of allergies, not the thumb sucking), and was still apparent even after researchers took into account variables like parents’ allergies, family pets, and if their parents smoked. If you’ve never stopped biting your nails yourself, consider this extra good news.

Thumb Sucking And Nail Biting May Reduce Allergies

That’s not to imply that your kid knows what they’re doing, or that you should encourage these habits. They clearly don’t need your help with it, and thumb sucking may not always be great for developing teeth. Instead, experts suspect these results further support the “hygiene hypothesis,” which states that some exposure to bacteria and other microbes is good for your kid’s immune system, and that could include allergies. Bacteria … is there anything it can’t do?

[H/T] U.S. News & World Report