New study: thumb-sucking and nail-biting is beneficial for your kids

Find out what benefits thumb-sucking and nail-biting can provide your children! Full story here

According to a new study published earlier this July in the journal Paediatrics, children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails are less likely to develop allergies. Furthermore, children who indulge in both habits have an even better chance at lessening the likelihood of developing allergies to things like house dust mites, grass, cats, dogs, horses, and airborne fungi.

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The study, which used data from a New Zealand study, tracked the health of over 1,000 people ranging in age from newly born to 38-years-old. When each participant of the study reached the age 13, they were tested for common allergies. They were checked again these allergies at 32-years-old.

What researchers found was that children who were thumb-suckers and/or nail-biters between 5 and 11 years old were 33 percent less likely to be affected by allergens like dust mites, cats, and grass at age 13. When participants were tested for common allergies again at age 32, they were 39 percent less likely to be affected.

"Our findings are consistent with the hygiene theory that early exposure to dirt or germs reduces the risk of developing allergies," said Malcolm Sears, formerly from Dunedin School of Medicine in New Zealand and currently with McMaster University in Canada.

"While we do not recommend that these habits should be encouraged, there does appear to be a positive side to these habits," Sears added.

Can thumb-sucking and/or nail-biting have additional health benefits for your children? Learn more on the next page!

The New Zealand study had hoped to prove the correlation between thumb-sucking/nail-biting and microbial exposure. More specifically how these microbial exposures can result in an improved immune system and a reduced development to allergic reactions (also known as atopic sensitisation).

While researchers were able to yield findings concerning the latter, none of the data was able to provide any proof that these bad childhood habits can benefit the immune system. Researchers had hoped that their study could find a significant correlation between these habits and common illnesses like asthma and hay fever, though, what they revealed was not surprising.

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Apparently, children who are thumb-suckers and/or nail-biters during the ages studied, are equally as likely to develop common immune system illnesses like asthma and hay fever. Not to mention that kids who display both habits are susceptible to other health problems like misaligned teeth and oral infections.

While it's best to keep your kids from indulging in either bad hand habit, at least there now exists data that can prove thumb-sucking and nail-biting does have its benefits.

[H/T] NDTV

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