Dirty Girls

First… sorry, couldn’t resist the post title.  I do suppose this may bring some traffic to my blog of people who are not exactly looking for political and social commentary.   Anyway, found this story over at the NPR Health blog really interesting:

There’s a growing body of research showing that children exposed to lots of germs early in life are less likely to develop allergies, asthma or autoimmune disorders as they grow up.

But now there’s a new twist on the theory, known as the hygiene hypothesis in scientific circles, and it’s about little girls in cute little dresses.

In an article in the peer-reviewed journal Social Science and MedicineSharyn Clough, a philosopher of science at Oregon State University who studies research bias, says young girls are held to a higher standard of cleanliness than young boys, a discrepancy that could help explain later health differences.

Girls are expected to stay squeaky clean while boys are encouraged to play outside, Clough argues. And that might explain why women have higher rates of certain illnesses.

Women have a higher rate of asthma than men — 8.5 percent compared to 7.1 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re also more likely than men to have allergies. And the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Associationsays autoimmune disorders affect women three times more often than men.

Sarah’s taking a nap right now, but perhaps when she’s done, we can roll around all the copious mud in our yard (lots of rain + not lots of grass).  There probably is something to the hygiene hypothesis, but that’s surely not to explain for David’s asthma and David and Alex’s hayfever.  David is absurdly germophobic right now, but that’s a more recent development.  He actually washes his hands every single time he’s going to eat something.  Kim and I are far from neat freaks and surely having a dog and a person in diapers are always spreading germs about the home.  Anyway, as part of my feminist parenting, I’ll make sure Sarah gets just as dirty as her older brothers.

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