Why we should let daughters play outside, even if they get a little dirty
Washington: A new study has proposed how parents may be making their daughters prone to more diseases just because they don’t want them to get dirty when they are young.
Oregon State University philosopher Sharyn Clough has said that our society socializes young girls differently from young boys. In particular, she notes, girls are generally kept from getting dirty compared to boys.
“Girls tend to be dressed more in clothing that is not supposed to get dirty, girls tend to play indoors more than boys, and girl’s playtime is more often supervised by parents,” said Clough.
“There is a significant difference in the types and amounts of germs that girls and boys are exposed to, and this might explain some of the health differences we find between women and men.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that asthma prevalence is higher among females (8.9 percent compared to 6.5 percent in males) and that women are more likely to die from asthma. The National Institutes of Health statistics show that autoimmune diseases strike women three times more than men.
“More than 90 percent of the cells in our body are microbial rather than human. It would seem that we have co-evolved with bacteria. We need to explore this relationship more, and not just in terms of eating ‘pro-biotic’ yogurt,” she said.
Clough advises parents to keep more outdoor time for girls even if that means the kids get a little dirty.
“Getting everyone, both boys and girls, from an early age to be outdoors as much as possible is something I can get behind,” she said.
The study is published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.