When Shnook was a baby, I was definitely paranoid about germs– not to the obsessive compulsive extremes that I could have been, but I did have anxiety about him chewing on toys that had been on the ground and I always brought a blanket to put him on, whether it was at the park or yoga class. I have to admit, I was probably more worried about him ingesting a germ than I was about all the toxic crapola he is exposed to on a regular basis.
Turns out my thinking may have been all wrong. My sister, Rebecca, posted on Being Pregnant about this thing called the Hygiene Hypothesis– a theory that claims our immune systems are all messed up due to all of our…well…hygiene. You know, antibacterial soap, washing stuff all the time, and not letting our babies play in the dirt. The resulting immune wackiness is the culprit for all sorts of allergies and such.
I’d be happy to let Fuzz and Shnook play in the dirt if I knew they’d have healthier immune systems, and it would prevent allergies and asthma, especially in light of their recent illnesses. But, what kind of dirt are we talking about here? Your garden variety dirt? Or like subway platform dirt? In my opinion these are two very different kinds of dirt. Two babies in the documentary Babies were constantly covered in dirt- especially the Mongolian boy–Bayar, who was basically on the ground from the moment he was born. He seemed fine, even if he was almost trampled by farm animals a few times. By the way, if you haven’t seen this documentary, I highly recommend it.
What do you think? Do you believe in the Hygiene Hypothesis?