Everyone has that one terrible habit. Mine is nail biting.
It's not favorable as far as habits go, but nail biting has benefits that actually explain a lot. I'm also not allergic to anything and have a rock solid immune system, and that may have something to do with nail biting.
Based on a new study published in Pediatrics, exposure to some germs when you're a kid strengthens the immune system. Researchers assessed 1,000 people over the course of their lives to come to this conclusion.
Around a third of the kids assessed bit their nails or sucked their thumbs in their early years. This group was least likely to have allergies compared to the kids who didn't have these habits by the time they hit their teens and adulthood. People who had the best immune systems were both thumb suckers and nail biters.
This study backs up the idea that exposure to germs early in life is more protective than hazardous. I don't know anything about parenting, but I guess science says that kids could develop allergies if you keep them too sheltered from germs.
That being said, it's definitely worrisome to parents when they see their kid sucking their thumb or biting their nails as these habits develop. The social issues around them, as well as health concerns, can be stressful to parents who don't know how to constructively help their kids break these habits. But with this new evidence, maybe they can worry slightly less.
Yeah, I've tried several times to stop biting my nails and I hate doing it. But I rarely get sick, I'm not allergic to anything and it's probably because of my gross nail biting habit. Take THAT, Mom.
Citations: Thumb Suckers and Nail Biters May Develop Fewer Allergies (Well / NY Times), Thumb-suckers and nail-biters have 'fewer allergies' (BBC)