Baby Guide

The potential hazards and benefits of eating dirt

Some, if not all, kids love playing in the dirt. And unless you keep a watchful eye over them, chances are they may even eat the dirt, and feel happy about it too. Some kids in fact, tend to develop a condition called pica where they develop a deep craving for mud and dirt. And although eating dirt can be considered very harmful considering the ‘not so pleasant’ things you can find in it, it cannot be considered all that dangerous either. Here are some points to prove this point.

Hazards of Eating Dirt

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  • One of the most common problems that arise due to consuming dirt is  Children who eat dirt often complain about experiencing pain in their bowels. This is mainly due to the presence of tiny, foreign particles like cloth or hair that go in with the dirt when your child eats it. These particles get stuck in the bowel and start causing pain.
  • Dirt and mud can effectively conceal dangerous objects like broken pieces of glass or pottery etc. When consumed with the dirt, these can cause potential health hazards to your little one. For instance, a piece of pottery can get caught in between the teeth or break a tooth while a glass piece can lacerate the gums, tongue or throat.

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  • Dirt usually contains the waste materials of several birds and animals. And when your baby pops some of this dirt into his/her mouth, he/she would also be ingesting parasitic worms like Toxocaracanis which can cause an infection called toxocariasis characterized by joint pain, and Ascarislumbricoides which can cause an infection called ascariasis characterized by intestinal obstructions.
  • Dirt contains high levels of bacterial growth. And one particular bacteria called the Coliform bacteria is considered very lethal for children. Excess levels of coliform bacteria in the body could lead to conditions like diarrhea, E. Coli infections and even kidney shutdown.
  • The most dangerous side effect of eating dirt however, is lead poisoning. Dirt always contains small traces of lead in the form of paint chips or gaseous residues. Ingesting lead can lead to several health related problems for your baby, including neurological disorders, hearing loss, insomnia, recurrent headaches and even kidney or lung cancer.

Benefits of Eating Dirt

All said and done, not all forms of dirt are lethal at the end of the day. Scientists have actually revealed that eating dirt (certain forms) can be beneficial for your baby’s health in the long run.

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  • Studies have revealed that an early exposure to the bacteria present in dirt can boost your baby’s immunity levels and increase his/her resistance to childhood diseases, including allergies. This is learnt from the fact that children who grow up in very clean surroundings easily fall sick when exposed to these bacteria because their systems hardly get to meet these pathogens and so, do not develop a sturdy resistance against the latter.
  • Some forms of clay compounds are also added regularly to vaccines in order to boost the response of the immune system to the medication. So when your baby is eating dirt, he/she is actually vaccinating himself/herself with a dose of common, harmless bacteria that can increase his/her resistance to bacterial infections in the future.
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Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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