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Experts Say Dirt Is Good For Kids

November 24, 2009

Scientists are advising parents that a bit of dirt can be good for children.

The US team of scientists discovered that being ‘too clean’ can lead to the skin having problems with healing.

They say normal bacteria living on the skin trigger a pathway that helps prevent inflammation when a child gets hurt. The bugs can reduce the body’s natural overactive immune system, which can make cuts and grazes swell.

The findings further back the theory of the “hygiene hypothesis,” where the exposure to germs early on in life can actually lead to the body being better prepared for allergies.

Many believe our obsession with cleanliness is to blame for the recent boom in allergies in developed countries.

With the steady increase of allergies in the UK and other countries, it would seem that our obsession with keeping everything 100% clean is having a negative effect on the health of our children. Allergy rates have tripled in this decade alone, with one in three people now having an allergy of some form.

The bacteria found on most bodies who are not over-clean are considered to be ‘good’ bacteria. Staphylococci are the bacteria that aid the body in healing the skin.

The scientists looked at mice and human cells, and discovered that the harmless bacteria did this by making a molecule called lipoteichoic acid (LTA), which acted on keratinocytes – the main cell types found in the outer layer of the skin.

The LTA keeps the keratinocytes in line, halting them from creating an aggressive inflammatory response.

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