Are More Kids Depressed Because They’re Too Clean?

Hi Readers: Let kids eat dirt? Yes!

At least, that’s my take-away from reading this thought-provoking enbbyikdks
. It discusses the work of Emory neuroscientist Charles Raison, MD,  who studies the link between cleanliness and depression. His hypothesis is that maybe young people are experiencing more asthma, allergies and even depression because they are less exposed to the benign germs that have been co-existing with and HELPING humans since the beginning of time. One way those microscopic “old friends” may help humans is by teaching the immune system not to overreact to other non-threatening germs and become inflamed. And there is some connection between inflammation and depression.

Here’s Dr. Raison putting it far better than I:  can: [youtube=]

His entire study appears in December’s Archives of General Psychiatry.  But me, I watched more of his short videos on YouTube and found them really good. Now…off to toss the Purell. — Lenore

59 Responses to Are More Kids Depressed Because They’re Too Clean?

  1. pebblekeeper December 9, 2010 at 12:57 am #

    I Completely Agree! Not very many generations ago, daily baths were not even possible, daily fresh water baths were rarer still between large families. e’ve had many friends over to our home, the children who are “cleanies” are much more timid and shy, afraid first of the dirt and sand, layering on fear of worms and bugs, and plants. Hard to have fun at a lake house when you are afraid of dirt on the skin and clothes!

  2. enyawface December 9, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    The things we did when we were kids would probably land some of our parents in jail if it were to happen today. Splashing in the water, playing in the mud and dirt, outside in the yard, running around and riding our bikes in just our shorts, no helmets, in the street, no bike trails, heck sometimes even playing outside naked., :O Today, outside…with no shirt.. OMG someone might see me!!!!

  3. SKL December 9, 2010 at 1:24 am #

    Ha ha, this is something my kids need never worry about!

    Our monthly maid service was supposed to come and clean the week I went to bring the girls home from foster care. They didn’t show. The girls encountered plenty of dust from day one, and the funny thing is, the one kid’s skin issues cleared up permanently almost immediately. They were almost never sick, until I sent them to preschool. So I’m a believer: dirt is our friend.

    It does make life a lot easier once we embrace this reality.

  4. Elizabeth December 9, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    I would desperately love to see a proper study done on this. I know a lot of people that believe it, but until I see a double-blind trial, I’m not going to spout it from the rooftops.

    It’s just a hypothesis at this point… It does seem to work for my kids, but I’m not going to lie. I only tried it because I’m lazy.

  5. Steve December 9, 2010 at 1:29 am #

    I’m doing my part to improve my kids’ immune systems! That I hate cleaning the house is just a nice side benefit– it’s really for the children. 🙂

  6. JeneeLyn December 9, 2010 at 1:37 am #

    Reminds me of the teacher on The Magic School Bus series who encourages the kids to “Make mistakes! Get dirty!” A wise philosophy, I think.

  7. Denise December 9, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    We actually have found that our kids are less sick than the other families we know…not because we are dirty, but because I don’t buy antibacterial soap (do you know how hard it is to find just pain ol’ soap in a pump).

    We don’t obsess about germs. And we have a lot of kids…so the kids get exposed to each others germs and do just fine.

    I totally believe that the obsession we have with germs and dirt and the total eradication thereof contributes to compromised immune systems.

    I realize that all this anecdotal data isn’t going to convince some, but i can tell you that we don’t have allergies, asthma, or any long term illnesses among our kids.

  8. pentamom December 9, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    I have a friend who is not obsessively clean — her home is “comfortably messy” — but when it comes to the disinfecting and anti-bacterial stuff, she’s all over it, wiping things down all the time, giving my kids hand sanitizer before she offers them wrapped candy if anyone in her house has been the least bit sick recently, etc.

    And her three kids are sick all. the. time. I almost want to ask her if maybe lightening up would help, since her kids almost couldn’t be sick more often than they are — what would she have to lose? But I don’t think she’d be open to it.

  9. Obi-Wandreas December 9, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    The other problem with the anti-bacterial stuff, lies in the whole “Kills 99% of all germs!” issue. That leftover 1% is left with a fertile breeding ground. Overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial cleaners merely serves to increase the population of superbugs, such as MRSA and the like.

    Given the choice between a case of the sniffles and a possible apocalyptic pandemic, I think I’ll suck it up and grab a tissue, thank you very much.

  10. delurking December 9, 2010 at 2:06 am #

    Despite such claims, which arise from time to time, as we make our environment cleaner and cleaner lifespans have gotten longer and longer.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and this guy doesn’t have it. It would be easy enough to test with mice.

  11. Jen Lynch December 9, 2010 at 2:21 am #

    This would definitely explain why my kid is so happy! When she was very little, moms in the park were constantly telling me she had rocks in her mouth, or dirt, or leaves etc. etc. I had a pat answer of “She can eat anything but poop, cigarette butts and glass!”

  12. Sunny December 9, 2010 at 2:33 am #

    I know weak immune systems have been correlated with depression, but this is the first time I’ve heard the sickness being blamed for the depression and not the other way around.

    I still don’t think it implies causality, but there’s nothing wrong with letting your kids get dirty anyhow.

  13. Steph December 9, 2010 at 2:35 am #

    @pentamom – I’m the exact opposite of your friend! I don’t go crazy over germs (except when I’m handling raw meat in the kitchen) because I do believe that exposure to “benign germs” is important in strengthening the immune system.

    Messiness is another story though. Being in a messy room seriously gives me anxiety attacks. I’ve apparently always been that way, or so my mom says. Everything had to be in its place, order and symmetry/balance were paramount, but I had no qualms about running around outside and sliding face-first down a muddy hill. (Which, for the record, is what happens when the dads let their 6-year-old daughters wander around the woods alone when they go camping for the weekend. The look on my dad’s face was PRICELESS.)

  14. enyawface December 9, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    When I was growing up,if one of the neighbor kids got chicken pox, all of the kids who hadn’t went to play at their h house. Sniffles? A box of cleanex and off to school you went. Everyone had chap stick and we shared it with the kids who didn’t. Plain soap and water was fine for washing your hands. Spit was an all purpose cleaner, especially for dirt on little boy’s faces. A skinned knee got splashed with some water and and a band aid slapped on it. And ya know, not one of the kids I grew up with died from any infections or germs.
    Also I was always a big kid, but I never started having any serious problems until canola oil came around, Won’t touch the stuff, won’t eat anywhere that uses it. Canola is the genitally altered plant derived from the Mustard Plant that Mustard Gas is made from, Would you drink a soft drink made from genetically altered “safe” gasoline?

  15. pentamom December 9, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    delurking — I agree that this should be studied before it’s taken as gospel.

    OTOH, I don’t think that what’s being suggested is that cleanliness isn’t good. It’s that a particular type of cleanliness, taken to extremes, is self-defeating. As with nearly anything, there’s a level at which increasing a positive factor improves the situation, and a level beyond that where it becomes counter-productive. What’s being argued is that we’ve hit the counter-productive point with this stuff.

  16. enyawface December 9, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    I hate auto word correct, that I supposed to be genetically altered, although I’ve read that Canola oil does alter the other.

  17. therese December 9, 2010 at 2:46 am #

    i am a firm believer in exposing my children….my two children HARDLY ever get sick because I don’t rush them to the doctor with every sneeze. I don’t sanitize everything and so on. I was raised that way and hardly ever get sick. My boss takes bleach to everything. She is a real germ-a-phobe and her pedi told her to stop because the kids were getting sick because of it. They weren’t being exposed to germs to build an immune system. Now the depression part I find a little weird. I see where he is going with it, a child who is sick a lot can get depressed, but he’s pushing it a little to much.

  18. Donna December 9, 2010 at 2:46 am #

    I can’t speak as to depression but I’m a firm believer that exposure to germs keeps us healthy.

    I refuse to use Purell (can’t stand the smell), have never pressed the need to wash hands (except after pottying), live in a house that is definitely not spotless and practice the 10 second rule and my kid is almost never sick. Kids get abducted with more frequency than my kid gets sick. In 4 years, my daughter has missed a grand total of 3 days of daycare because of illlness.

    “as we make our environment cleaner and cleaner lifespans have gotten longer and longer.”

    This extraordinary claim also requires extraordinary evidence. I’m certainly not denying that we live longer now; I’m objecting to the implication that this is because we have Purell and anti-baterial soap. To a certain extent, I agree. There was certainly a point in which cleaner lifestyles (indoor plumping, water, sanitation, etc.) contributed to an overall rise in health of the population. However, this post-WWII obsession with cleanliness and germaphobia that has seized the US has not contributed to an increase in lifespans than cannot be explained by vast improvements in medical science during the same period.

  19. pentamom December 9, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    enyawface — if you can’t eat canola, don’t. But you’re misinformed — mustard gas is a synthetic chemical, not made from a plant.

  20. Dean December 9, 2010 at 3:23 am #

    His theory is interesting but at this point it’s a theory. And notice he never relates this to “children in the last 10 years” – he simply says “modern world” – and he also is careful to point out this may be an issue for folks whose systems are genetically predisposed.

    I’m no clean freak. I use hand sanitizer sometimes with my kids, and I like them to wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating as a matter of course.

    His theory aside, I still suspect better hygiene has overall lead to better health rather than poorer for the world’s population as a whole.

    Larger numbers of younger people diagnosed with depression could have to do with many things, one of which may be his theory, and another of which may be that these days kids are toted to therapists at the drop of a hat. Now THAT is a free-range issue if you ask me. I’m all for therapy as a good thing in general but parents are way too quick these days to get psycho and/or educational evals. So it’s no real shock that more young people are being diagnosed with depression.

  21. EricS December 9, 2010 at 3:26 am #

    @ Steph: That’s OCD. I have a mild for of what you have. Certain things have to be in a “proper” place, in a “proper” order. Some have to put things in order right away or they get stressed. I can go for days without organizing stuff lying around. But I’m always looking at them and tempted to till then (but not overwhelmed). lol

    I use plane soap and water to clean up before handling food, especially after I’ve been outside, handling money, touching door knobs, shaking hands, or digging in the garden. The only time I use any type of antibacterial product is if I’m about to eat and no soap and water is available. ie. in a boat in the middle of the lake, or at a campsite.

    There are some experts who don’t believe in the speculation that antibacterial products killing both good and bad germs. But killing the good germs can lessen the bodies immunity to bad germs. Since the good germs we have help to battle the bad germs. All I have to say, is that before Purell et al, all we had was soap and water, and civilization survived and flourished.

    Unless they have open wounds or sores, I have no problem with my kids sharing toys, drink boxes, cookies, even a hug. And when they play, getting dirty is to be expected, so I let it be.

  22. LeighB in ATL December 9, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    There was a story on This American Life about a man who exposed himself to hookworms as a treatment for his debilitating allergies and asthma and cured himself in the process. There are a number of scientists who are studying the hygiene hypothesis as a way to explain the western prevalence of certain diseases. Simplistically explained (which is all I’m capable of!), I think they postulate that we have rid ourselves of parasites, like hookworms, that actually served a valuable purpose in the development of our immune systems. Fascinating stuff.

  23. jen , December 9, 2010 at 4:37 am #

    I’ve never been obsessed with cleanliness (neatness and tidiness yes…but never cleanliness). Unless they are dripping with mud my 4 kids only bathe once a week and they are encouraged to get dirty. And they never get sick. My oldest just had to take anitbiotics for the first time and he’s almost 8!

    Although I must admit, my youngest is suffering from youngest child syndrome…a runny nose for the last 2 months. Blech!

  24. enyawface December 9, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    pentamom, canola oil is made from a genetically altered form of the rapeseed plant. Mustard Gas is a synthetic product derived from rapeseed oil. Both started from the same plant.

  25. Steph December 9, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    @Eric S – Yeah, it sort of is, and sort of isn’t. When combined with other behaviors and attitudes, it unfortunately actually turned out to be a combination of OCD (because of the anxiety caused by disorder in my environment) and OCPD (a personality disorder where you don’t actually KNOW there’s something wrong with what you’re doing), because until a few years ago I had NO IDEA it was unreasonable to forgo sleep or food in favor of, say, washing a sink full of dirty dishes. I’d sort of assume things had to be perfect or else it meant they were awful – no room for middle ground.

    It’s tricky, because I’ll know something is wrong when I feel anxious (OCD), but I have trouble identifying when I have inappropriate responses to stress (OCPD) – I have to rely on my husband to tell me when I’ve gone off the deep end (which is HARD when you feel like your way is the only way!).

    I just find it amusing that I’ve always had such a strong need for my environment to be neat and clean (if not entirely germ free) but never had a problem diving head first into a pile of mud. 😉

  26. sylvia_rachel December 9, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    I agree in general that people these days tend to overdo the germophobia. That said, my kid get lots of germ exposure — she showers once a week unless truly filthy, gets as dirty as she wants to when she’s outside, uses hand sanitizer only when visiting Grandpa in the nursing home — but is frequently sick (though rarely with anything more than a cold). In fact, she has never had a flu shot because she typically spends the entire flu season moving from cold virus to cold virus, and they won’t give you a flu shot if you’re sick.

    @ enyawface, about canola: most of the online information about canola is either over-the-top endorsements on pages belonging to links in the canola production chain or hysterical ranting by anti-canola interests, but there is neutral documentation out there. Here’s some of it: Snopes (; the Mayo Clinic (; Eating Well (; ( Bottom line: Really not that scary. But by all means don’t eat it if it doesn’t agree with you. (There’s a wide variety of fruits and vegetables I can’t eat, because my throat swells up and I can’t breathe. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good and healthy things for the majority of people to consume.)

  27. Larry Harrison December 9, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

    To wit: a photo of my son that illustrates very clearly what side on which I I land with this issue (as if it will be any surprise):

    Take that, clean freaks!


  28. Larry Harrison December 9, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    That didn’t work right, let me try again:

    A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

    To wit: a photo of my son that illustrates very clearly what side on which I I land with this issue (as if it will be any surprise):

    Take that, clean freaks!


  29. Sky December 9, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    I don’t know about this hypothesis; I’m skeptical, but I let my kids play in dirt and don’t harp on them about washing their hands, and we don’t use antibacterial stuff (but mainly because it stings my little girls hands because she has exzcema). Despite my comfort with germ and dirt exposure, however, my daughter has bad environmental allergies and ezcema. My son has none. Can’t win them all, I guess.

  30. EricS December 9, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    @Steph: I hear ya, and feel for you. Baby steps?

    @Larry: LOL! That’s a classic pic if I ever saw one. The look alone is priceless. Love it. Is that mud, or chocolate/coco?

  31. Larry Harrison December 9, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    EricS That is mud. Our yard doesn’t have much grass and isn’t the desert, so if it’s rained recently it can be quite muddy. Such was the case that day & I simply let him play free without restriction, and that was the result.

    (The picture again:


  32. pentamom December 9, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    enyawface — no, it isn’t. Mustard gas is not made from the rapeseed plant. Never has been. It has nothing to do with any mustard-related plant. That is a widespread myth.

  33. oncefallendotcom December 9, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I like wintertime because I can get away with not bathing an extra day and not smell. I’ve eaten after another human being. I don’t wash my hands if all I did was pee. I have invoked the myth-busted “five second rule” and I’ve even double-dipped at parties.

    Funny thing is, I rarely ever get sick. I have had the flu twice in two decades. And I don’t bother with flu shots.

  34. Cheryl W December 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Well, my mom encouraged us kids to play in the sandbox, to play in the dirt and to use our hands when gardening. We had dogs, cats and chickens. We spent lots of time up the road at the farm with cows, pigs and horses. I chewed my fingernails, which were constantly dirty.

    I was sick more than any kid I knew. I don’t attribute it to the fact that I was exposed to dirt, but to the fact that my mother was the same way and I inherited my immune system from her. If it weren’t for antibiotics and vaccines, I think that I would not now be here.

    My kids get sick with about every cold and stomach thing that comes along. Despite homeschooling. My youngest has virally induced asthma. Despite having dog, cats, and ducks. And no one else in the entire extended family with asthma. We did have mold in the home when he was little, but that is about it. (And he doesn’t react to it now or then.)

    When one kid gets sick, the bleach does come out for doorknobs and dishes, especially when it is the stomach things. I hate puke on carpets. (I have seen way too much of that!) But mostly, we use Ivory soap, or pump foam soap made with dilute shampoo to wash hands before meals (but hardly ever for snacks.)

    But, my kids are happy. And I was happy as a kid too. The article makes a certain amount of sense to me, but we may be the family that is the exception to the rule.

  35. Cheryl W December 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Mustard gas is not derived from a plant. Plants may have some of the same chemicals but mustard gas is synthetic. Read the whole article on the link below.

  36. gramomster December 9, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    I have been reading and discussing in classes the hygiene hypothesis for many years. I too flee from those things that ‘kill 99.9% of disease causing bacteria!’ because then you have the really strong ones left to reproduce! Yay!
    No thanks. I’ll take a whole bunch of weak suckers breeding like, well, bacteria, than a teensy bunch of superpowered evil-doers breeding like, well, bacteria.
    And yes, I totally know how hard it is to find plain old effing soap in a pump, and I feel you completely!!
    As I’ve previously mentioned here, recently even, my grandson, who seriously never gets sick, does the. grossest. things. He has: licked my headlight covers in the rain. Licked the cement at the pool! Licked the floor. He regularly is busted chewing on the soles of his shoes while in his carseat. Ya’ know, he probably has licked the toilet while in there pottying. God I hope not, but he is going on 5, so I haven’t supervised that in a while now. Ick.
    But never. He’s never sick. Even going to daycare. Even with both his grampa and I being teachers. That sucks… when we both get something from one of our adoring students who have to come by our office to tell us – cough, hack, cough, sneeze, gag – how sick – cough, sneeze, snort – they are, so if they’re not in – cough, hack, gag – class, they’ll really try to catch up. Yay. We’re effing sick as all get-out, and the kid is running around like he runs the world. Which, for a couple days, he unfortunately does.

    And Larry – Again, hilarious! And adorable! You have some stinkin’ cute kids there, dude!

  37. JayLib December 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    I like the name Free Range Kids! (Came here from Johnny Edge …) I describe myself as a cage-free human. Maybe free-range is a bit better. No kids yet, but if and when they will of course be free-range.

    There most definitely is a connection between inflammation and depression — I’ve been living it, off and on …. while testing natural agents that fight inflammation — e.g., quercitin+bromelain and probiotics — I notice that as the inflammation goes away, my mood lifts as well. It’s like going from cloudy to sunny. And probably it shouldn’t be surprising that pain makes you depressed. As it should, as it is a warning signal that there’s a problem you need to fix.

    There is also a connection between oversanitation and sickness, particularly immune dysfunction. Here’s the thing. Unlike, say, a surgical wound, the human gastrointestinal tract is well designed to handle microbes. We are no less equipped than all the other animals — none of whom naturally eat cooked food from sanitized dishes. The GI tract is not “inside” of your body, it is a barrier between the outside and inside, like an internal skin that is porous, but also the largest concentration of immune tissues and cells in the human body. (Your gut is also called your “second brain,” but that is a whole other topic.) That appendix that they used to say had “no function” and routinely got yanked out whenever it got inflamed — that is an immune system outpost where white blood cells “check out” what is going through the GI tract.

    Most people do not realize “we” are composed more of bacteria than human cells. Naturally, the human GI tract, just like the outer skin, is meant to be covered with flora (beneficial bacteria and yeasts) that provide synergies such as helping us break down our food and even producing vitamins for us. These passively inhibit pathogens from getting a foothold, and also in some cases have the ability to actively destroy them. When we wipe these out by taking antibiotics (including antibiotic-laced meat) or drinking chlorinated water, we change the ecology in there and usually certain yeasts such as Candida albican then grow out of control, and can punch holes in the GI wall and invade the rest of the body. Then you’ve got a leaky gut, and probably, you become “sensitive” to your favorite foods because they are leaking through into the blood undigested. You get all kinds of weird autoimmune reactions, pain and inflammation in various places that most M.D.s will not be able to diagnose or treat, because by and large they are not trained to.

    Nobody should ever use antibacterial soaps, sprays, etc., unless you are about to perform or undergo surgery. They kill good flora and put pressure on normal bacteria to mutate and become resistant, which causes more sickness and deaths. Plus, like probably most synthetic chemicals, triclosan is harmful in its own right. The soap/detergent/cosmetic industry, together with the implicit or explicit help of mainstream medicine, and things like the 2001-02 anthrax scare, have produced this paranoia about hygiene. The only real beneficiaries have been the companies selling these products.

    Now about bike helmets (mentioned in the blog description). In my own neighborhood, I see this 30something, grown man with a little tyke—presumably dad and son–bicycling down my sidewalk and street. Dad rides the street, junior rides the sidewalk.) Junior is on training wheels. Both are strapped into helmets.

    I think back to when I was learning how to ride a bike. Honestly, I barely even remember the training wheels. It seems I rolled with the training wheels a couple days maybe, and then I was riding free. Maybe it was several days. But I do remember – I never wore a helmet.

    This is a quiet, tree-lined suburban residential street. People don’t speed here. And, the kid was on the sidewalk, and on training wheels, so wasn’t likely to fall. And had he fallen he’d only have a couple feet to fall. Kids are not fragile. They don’t break when they fall–they bounce! Right?

    I feel sorry for that kid.

    Just Liberty— the Blog!

  38. Tracey - JustAnotherMommyBlog December 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    You can be clean without being anal. I hate antibacterial soaps in any situation other than a hospital. All physicians that cut into bodies should probably be completely de-germed, dontcha think?

    I loathe Purell and am a firm believer of only using normal soap and water (and not before every damn meal or anything, either.)

  39. Frau_Mahlzahn December 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    I’m amazed that this is even news. We’ve known that for ever. (Actually, we like to joke that “dirt cleans the stomach”), *ggg*.

    So long,

  40. Sean December 9, 2010 at 7:09 pm #

    I have read other studies about the inflammation response, and how it caused heart issues later in life. Not sure I buy the unscientific, broad-brush statement regarding depression.

  41. Sean December 9, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    By the way, about a month ago we were hiking way up in the mountains along a spring fed stream. I know the area and there is nothing around, so I bent over and drank from the stream. My daughters thought this the most bizarre thing EVER. It’s funny how the tap is the only legitimate source of water, speaking of hygiene.

  42. Steph December 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    There’s also the research showing that kids who have pets tend to develop better immune systems, for the same reason: exposure to dirt and germs.

    I have a friend who cleans house obsessively and last Easter wouldn’t let her two young kids partcipate in a family member’s Easter egg hunt….because the eggs were placed outside, in the grass. Horrors! These same poor kids are always ill with something, and I’ve politely suggested that perhaps she should let them go outside and get dirty every once in a while.

  43. Kim December 9, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    Oh come on, buy the hand sanitizer…that stuff pays my bills… 🙂 You don’t have to use it, just buy it. In vast quantities. Please.

    My son never gets sick, either, but when he does it’s big. Really big. Like, as in, he has less than 24 hours to live if he doesn’t have surgery right now big. I got a bit obsessive about cleanliness after that…sprayed everything in the house with Lysol about a million times. Not only that, but during the very long week he was hooked up to tubes in the hospital, I managed to catch the ‘swine flu’ just because I was inside a building where a bunch of sick people were and never got out. Bah!

  44. Robin December 9, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    JayLib – interesting thought about the chlorinated water. Is the amount of chlorine in municipal water enough to actually kill intestinal germs?

  45. poppy December 9, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    Those looking for plain soap in pump form:
    Try a health food store or health section of a grocery store; they almost always have some. You can also keep a pump that you’ve used and emptied, and refill it with bottled liquid soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) or shower gel (Lush makes some nice smelling thinner ones).

    Me, I like bar soap for hands. I found it funny when my nephew (6 years old) came to stay overnight. He went to the bathroom, and yelled down, “Can’t find the soap!” So I go to him and see that he’s searching the countertop for something in a bottle, meanwhile ignoring the rather large bar of soap sitting in a soap dish right beside the sink! Apparently he’s never used a soap the “old-fashioned” way. 🙂

    Totally off topic, but my daughter’s friend came to stay, and asked for a drink of water with ice cubes. She was so shocked that I had to manually get them out of a tray in the freezer myself, rather than push an ice button. (I live in a wealthy area overall, where all appliances are top of the line, as is everything else. Except mine. 😉 )

  46. Cheryl W December 10, 2010 at 12:56 am #

    Jay Lib, in many places it is the law that kids have wear a bike helmet. Personally, when we lived in a paved area, it wasn’t an issue for us. When helmets became necessary is when we moved to a dirt road with a hill that gets corduroy. My boys all went over the handle bars and the results to the helmets was pretty impressive. I think we have avoided 3 trips to the ER already.

    Also, I have one really talented athletic kid. I also have one with muscle delay issues. Please don’t judge kids that you don’t know – they may have other issues why they are using the training wheels.

  47. Kim December 10, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    Bike helmets are good. I’d probably be dead if not for a bike helmet.

  48. Kim December 10, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    And the place I would have been killed was on a tree-lined residential street where people don’t speed. It had nothing to do with anyone else…I was riding too fast, hit the brakes to hard, and when flying over my handle bars. Broke a tooth, had a fat lip, and my helmet was destroyed. Had I not been wearing the helmet, it would have been my head that was destroyed. And I was in my30’s when this happened.

    So yeah. Wear a bike helmet. I didn’t when I was a kid, but I am glad I do now, and my son never rides his bike without one. He’s like me and tends to ride pretty fast. Besides, it’s against the law for kids under 16 not to wear a helmet when on a bike in my state.

  49. green skunk December 10, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    I served in the Peace Corps 15 years ago. Suffice it to say that it was poor – on a global level poor. Sanitation is an issue there (and used to be here) in regards to purified drinking water, sufficient out house facilities, parasite load (often directly linked to walking without shoes as the parasites from animal feces can enter through the feet)… In these situations, increased hygiene (especially chlorinated water) WILL increase overall health and life span. The death of toddlers due to parasites, diarrhea … is tragic and REAL.

    However, for the vast majority of people in first world societies, such as the US, these concerns are minimal at best. As stated previously, the danger is in going to far to the clean extreme and thus negating the advantages of hygiene in the first place. Like all animals, humans have evolved to co-exist with critters – both of the bacterial and parasitic types. Remove these from the picture and other things occur – like allergies, depression, illness…

    But, like anything, cleaning alone is not the sole cause of these conditions. Allergy increase has also been linked to decreased rates of long term breast feeding. Family tendancies also have a great deal to do with it – even the messy nursing moms will sometimes have kids with allergies! 🙂

    As previously mentioned, health food stores are good places to find “good” hand soaps. But, so is Target and Lowes, both of which carry the Method brand. Mrs. Meyers is also great and is found at many grocery stores – though at least in mine it’s not mixed in with the rest of the hand soaps and instead has its own section.

    And, you can always make your own hand soap out of bar soap.

    I personally love Dr. Bronners bar soap (also can use to make great and cheap homemade laundry soap ) but Ivory or hotel soaps would work just as well…

    One final note – soap and elbow grease work far better at cleaning than fancy antibacterial stuff – and work without making super bugs!

  50. Jill December 10, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    All the anecdotes in the world don’t mean anything next to double blind placebo controlled studies. There is mounting evidence that there is something to the Hygiene Hypothesis when it comes to allergies and autoimmune disorders, but I have never heard of a link between inflammation and depression. I’d like to see the evidence of that.

  51. pentamom December 11, 2010 at 2:14 am #

    Robin — speaking out of common sense rather than actual information, I’d guess no. If it were, you could cure intestinal infections by drinking tap water! The amount of chlorine in tap water is just enough to keep bacteria from multiplying while in the water system — the gut is a far more favorable environment to them than plain water.

  52. pentamom December 11, 2010 at 2:18 am #

    I also wonder what JayLib found to be so terribly unfortunate about the kid with the bike helmet. Even if you (wrongly) believe they’re unnecessary for a small child cycling down a quiet street, how do they detract from the joy of childhood enough to make JayLib feel sorry for him?

  53. gramomster December 11, 2010 at 4:14 am #

    @ Kim

    Yeah, I do sort of forget, because it’s so long ago now, but when Connor did get sick, it was big. He got pertussis at 7 weeks. Not old enough for vaccinations yet, and lo and behold, that particular vaccination wears off in adolescence. Connor came home to a house with a 16 year old mom, a 17 year old dad, and a 14 year old uncle, along with lots of all of their friends. After teensy dude got sick, while he spent 3 days in the hospital, the health department epidemic lady did a social network map, and went to hang out at the neighborhood coffee shop, where she handed out about 45 packets of prophylactic antibiotics, and some concerned parents took some of their coughing teenagers to be tested… about a dozen of the kids had pertussis, but having all been vaccinated, it never crossed a single parent’s mind. Until the baby landed in the hospital.
    And the day after we got home with him from that, I found myself in an ambulance on the way back, where my appendix was found to be perforated, and I got liberated of that, and spent a ‘lovely’ 3 days there myself. Still paying for that one, and it was almost 5 years ago.

    So, yeah. Hear ya’. And my husband used to commute by bike in Seattle. Three shattered helmets. Like, in multiple pieces. But he just turned 50, which beats the pants off being dead 12 years ago…

  54. Janet December 11, 2010 at 5:22 am #

    Wow, Lenore owned Purell???

  55. Sylvia_rachel December 11, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    I’m not really getting the bike-helmet hate, either. From my perspective, wearing a bike helmet is a really minor, not very restrictive safety measure with a potentially very big benefit. Plus, look, if the kid was out riding his bikecwith a helmet on, that means he was outside riding a bike!

  56. Lorencogah December 11, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    So….. where is toilet? Hehe))) Joke, relax 😉
    Hope for answer

  57. JayLib December 23, 2010 at 8:36 am #

    @ Robin — I have heard from multiple sources in alternative health, including my own doc, that yes, chlorine can wipe out or attenuate intestinal flora

    @Cheryl — yes, dirt roads and hills are different than flat level sidewalks

    @ Kim — yes, I’ve gone flying off a bike too and it got me 12 stitches to the chin. It taught me to be careful.

    This however was at age 18, a big boy falling from a big bike, at night. The situation I described was a toddler (to give you some idea, a 3-year-old) riding a bike about one foot off the ground. Now come on, if the kid falls nothing catastrophic will happen. He will learn not to fall.

    Kids fall while walking or running all the time.
    Should they wear helmets all day long?

    My problem is it’s just overkill, yes — I’ll say it — I think it is turning us into a nation of sissies.


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