Are you constantly reminding your child to stop biting nails or maybe you have a thumb-sucker who just won’t give up the habit? Well, you may just want to throw in the towel since these “bad habits” may actually be good for their health. A new study suggests that kids who suck their thumbs and bite their nails may actually have better auto-immune health in the long-run.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, collected data from more than 1,000 children born in 1972 and 1973. What researchers found was that children who sucked their thumbs or were nail-biters between the ages of 5 and 11 were less likely to suffer allergies at ages 13 and even later at age 32. Kids who indulged in both nail-biting and thumb-sucking were the least likely to have a reaction to the allergy test.
The results from the study probably prove the same theory that has been proven in the past, that kids are better off playing in the dirt once in a while in order to expose them to immune-boosting germs. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, explains to Allure how the “hygiene hypothesis” works. Zeichner says, “Germs are a part of our normal environment, and exposure to germs actually helps keep our bodies healthy. They help us build immunity to prevent future infections, and early exposure to germs may help build a tolerance and prevent allergies later in life.”
News of nail-biting and thumb-sucking making us healthier doesn’t necessarily mean you should begin gnawing on your nails or take up thumb-sucking. Zeichner explains that these habits aren’t all good. He says, “Nail biting can cause damage to nails and skin and expose the fingers to infections. Cuts and breaks in the skin from biting can increase your risk of infections from both bacteria and fungus because it gives them a portal of entry.”
What do you think of the study that suggests children who bite their nails and suck their thumbs have healthier immune systems?
Does your child have either of these habits?