Getting the dirt on immunity: Scientists show evidence for Hygiene Hypothesis

As you know, we like to get our hands dirty with nature play at our child care centres.  Our children are allowed to experience good old-fashioned childhood fun, playing in the dirt, mud and outdoors in general. Our Bush Kindy Explorers program is a great example of this where the children are exposed to nature and all its wonders including the micro-bugs that live in the dirt, plants and water. They also love tending the herb and veggie gardens at the centres where they get to dig in the dirt and nurture the seedlings into full grown edible plants.


So what exactly is the Hygiene Hypothesis apart from being a mouthful?  Well, it’s the concept of exposing people to germs in early childhood to build immunity.  Including nature play at our centre is a great way for us to do this.


For many years scientists have suggested that the Hygiene Hypothesis explains the global increase of allergic and autoimmune diseases in urban settings and in 2012 Medical professionals at Brigham and Women’s Hospital were able to prove this theory with biologic support.


Previous human studies have suggested that early life exposure to microbes (i.e., germs) is an important determinant of adulthood sensitivity to allergic and autoimmune diseases such as hay fever, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease, but it wasn’t proven until 2012.


Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have conducted a study that provides evidence supporting the hygiene hypothesis, as well as a potential mechanism by which it might occur.


The researchers studied the immune system of mice lacking bacteria or any other microbes (“germ-free mice”) and compared them to mice living in a normal environment with microbes. They found that germ-free mice had exaggerated inflammation of the lungs and colon resembling asthma and colitis, respectively. This was caused by the hyperactivity of a unique class of T cells (immune cells) that had been previously linked to these disorders in both mice and humans.


Most importantly, the researchers discovered that exposing the germ-free mice to microbes during their first weeks of life, but not when exposed later in adult life, led to a normalized immune system and prevention of diseases. Moreover, the protection provided by early-life exposure to microbes was long-lasting, as predicted by the hygiene hypothesis.


“These studies show the critical importance of proper immune conditioning by microbes during the earliest periods of life,” said Richard Blumberg, MD, chief for the BWH Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy, and co-senior study author, in collaboration with Dennis Kasper, MD, director of BWH’s Channing Laboratory and co-senior study author.


“Also now knowing a potential mechanism will allow scientists to potentially identify the microbial factors important in determining protection from allergic and autoimmune diseases later in life.”


In light of the findings, the researchers caution that further research is still needed in humans.


This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Crohns Colitis Foundation of America, Harvard Digestive Diseases Center, Medizinausschuss Schleswig-Holstein, and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.


Refer a Friend and Earn $100!

If you love the care and education we offer help us spread the word about our wonderful centres and each time someone you refer makes a booking you’ll earn yourself a $100 Gift Card from Coles Myer or Woolworths WISH. PLUS your friend will receive two weeks FREE!!!  That’s our way of saying thank you for supporting us.

Terms and Conditions
Referred Friend – Must book a minimum of two (2) days per week for twelve (12) weeks to receive two (2) weeks free.  The first week of service will be free and the last week of the twelve (12) weeks will be free. Fees must be up to date at all times. New clients only.
Referring Friend – The referring friend (current client) will receive a $100 gift card after their referred friend has completed twelve (12) continuous weeks of service at one of our centres.  There is a choice of Coles/Myer and Woolworths WISH Gift cards.


Bush Kindy Giggles Video

Bush Kindy Explorers is our very own nature play program and it’s included in our fees at each centre. It’s worth visiting the Bush Kindy Explorers Facebook page to to see the children engaging in explorational outdoor activities. Their smiles, giggles and inquiring looks say it all.

Bush Kindy Kids are back!! This term we will be exploring and having fun with nature at 'Schulster Park'. #bushkindyexplorers #natureplay

Posted by Bush Kindy Explorers on Sunday, October 8, 2017


Dress as a Pirate Day

What an effort parents and children put into their costumes for our ‘Dress as a Pirate Day’ at Benowa.  They looked amazing! This morning doing the role we spoke like pirates. In order to sail on the boat we had to complete a writing task. The Captain was looking for pirates that would have a go at anything and showcase their writing skills in some pirate words. What a great job everyone did!

The Importance of Play

Play is an important time for teaching children about relationships. It can help children to notice how their behaviour is affecting others and develop a sense of empathy for others.

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