Thumb-Sucking May Help Prevent Allergies

Nail biting and thumb sucking may seem like gross habits for kids to have, but new data shows that in young children, these actions might be protective against allergies. Published in the journal Pediatrics, scientists followed 1,037 children born in 1972 and 1973 for more than three decades. They found that at age 13, 38 percent of children who bit their nails or sucked their thumbs showed sensitivity to allergens such as dust mites, grasses and dog dander, compared to 49 percent of children who displayed neither habit. Just 31 percent of children with both habits showed sensitivity. The findings provide more support for the “hygiene hypothesis,” which suggests the rise in the rate of allergic diseases in kids may be related to our obsession with providing a germ-free environment. (Today)