Kids Who Suck Their Thumbs And Bite Their Nails Are Less Likely To Develop Allergies

Most of the children have the tendency to bite their fingernails and suck their thumbs. And now a new study suggests that there may be the positive outcomes of these bad habits of the kids.

Well, no parents would want to have these kinds of habits in their children. But researchers have found the positive effect of thumb sucking and nail biting habits in the children that protects them against the allergies.

A research conducted on the around 1000 children from the Canada and New Zealand. Researchers found that children with the habit of nail biting and thumb sucking are less prone to develop the allergic sensitivities compared to other babies without these habits. Moreover, the benefits were more if the kid had both of the habits.

Researchers say that their finding was consistent with the hygienic theory that early exposure to the germs and dirt, which reduces the risk of developing any allergies. Researchers from the McMaster University, Canada says that they didn’t encourage these habits instead they have their positive effects on the kids.

The team collects their data from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study that tracked the 1,037 participants born in between 1972 to 1973 in the Dunedin, New Zealand. Children had the habit of nail biting and thumb sucking when they were at the age of 5, 7, 9 and 11 years old.

They were then given the skin prick test at the age of 13 and 32 for the atopic sensation. This test is designed to check that if they are allergic to the at least one common allergen like grass, household pets or dust mites.

They found that about 31% of the children were the frequent nail biters or thumb suckers. And these children were less likely to develop an allergy, about 38%, at the age of 13 years compared to those who don’t have these oral habits that are about 49%. Also, the kids who had the both habits of nail biting and thumb sucking the prevalence is even lower which is 31%

Moreover, the benefits continued when the participants were the age of 32 years. The results showed that instead at this age they had low rates of allergies in the test. Furthermore, those with the habit of nail biting and thumb sucking have no associations with asthma or any kind of fever.

But the reason behind these happening is yet to answer. As researchers itself don’t know what the biological processes are undergoing that leads to this happening.

Researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand shares their views on this biological mechanisms. They say that for a while if we assume that this positive and protective effect is because of exposure to microbial organisms. But we are also unaware of the organisms which are beneficial and how they influence the immune function in this way.

Still, the scientists have no clear explanation of this phenomenon. But they say that exposure to the microbes when we are kids helps in strengthening the immune system. And hence may result in fewer allergies.

The hygienic hypothesis suggests the lifestyle factors that may be responsible for the rise in the allergic diseases in the recent decades.

But still, scientists have doubts in the hygiene hypothesis. As hygiene has many advantages but maybe it is a downside. This hypothesis is still controversial and unproven. But it can also be another piece of evidence that might be true.

Well, researchers yet to solve many mysteries relevant to this biological mechanism. But these findings suggest that the habits of nail biting and thumb sucking have a positive effect on the children.

Hope the above- mentioned information is useful for you.

Originally published at on August 22, 2016.