handwashing4.gif‘Wash your hands,’ that is the mantra of mums all over the world. Children have always been told to wash their hands and stay clean. But now mums might have to eat their words. It seems that extreme cleanliness in children is the cause of a rise in Crohn’s disease in developed countries. Research carried out by the Gut Foundation shows that 30,000 Australians have Crohn’s disease, especially among children and teenagers.

I have always had the nagging suspicion that a little dirt is good for you. Soil and dirt from the garden, for example, have bacteria which is good for the gut. It stimulates the immune system and boosts the body against susceptibility to some common diseases. Besides, physical activity always brings colour to the cheeks compared to sterilised, hygienic rooms. Teenagers who refuse to wipe their feet or clean their rooms may have another excuse to tell mum: medical reports state that it’s good to be dirty sometimes.