Let ‘Em Eat Dirt

We love dirt! So much so that Lucy, Amaze’s director, was asked to comment on research that reveals that a little bit of dirt can actually be good for kids.


Experts say not to worry if your child eats dirt, it can be good for them

PARENTS are being urged to let their kids “eat a little dirt”, with research showing it can improve children’s health.

Health experts say exposure to the microbes from healthy soil is positive and that fussy, germ-phobe parents need to put down the bleach.

International pediatric neurologist Maya Shetreat-Klein in her book Healthy Food, Healthy Gut, Happy Child highlights the need for early exposure to the microbes found in soil which help fight off common childhood disorders. The excess sanitisation of children’s lives with cleaning products, pesticides and antibiotics was ruining their immunity, she said.

The gut thrives when exposed to a variety of organisms.

Brisbane dietitian Kate Di Prima said parents often give their children probiotics and while it is fine to introduce bacteria, they need to be aware that the body has natural bacteria and children’s natural immunity needs to be challenged.

“Certainly, there is no suggestion that kids should go and eat loads of mud but if the soil is clean, without potting mix, then let them play, make mud pies and if they taste a little don’t panic,” Ms Di Prima said.

A study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine reveals the dangers of over-sanitisation. Children aged six to 12, whose parents regularly clean with bleach, get more infections, with a 20 per cent increase in flu, 35 per cent rise in tonsillitis and 18 per cent spike in other infections.

Childcare centre director Lucy Cook said that exposure to dirt was a big part of play at her Queensland centres.

“Lots of studies have shown … exposure to germs, colds, flus and parasites will mean they are less likely to develop asthma, ­eczema and allergies,” she said.

“Much has been written about the nutritional side of raising children. Less thought has been put into how our environment harms or hinders our children’s immunity.”