Monday, June 25, 2012

Could line drying diapers outside keep your child healthy?

I had an interesting thought the other day while hanging some diapers outside to dry.  The weather in Minnesota is currently beautiful. Flowers and trees are blooming and there is a lot of pollen and other potential allergens flying around in the air.  While this might make you hesitate to dry diapers outside, I'd like to suggest that drying diapers outside in high allergy seasons may actually benefit your baby.

A recent article in the journal of Nature highlighted the importance of letting kids play outside and get dirty.  There is actually something in dirt/germs that protects a child's immune system, and reduces levels of "natural killer T cells".  Killer T cells are important for fighting disease, but they can also attack our own bodies and cause asthma, inflammatory bowl disease, and other autoimmune disorders.  Researchers found that mice raised in environments without germs, had increased production of Killer T cells and went on to develop asthma and problems with the gut.  Researchers also found that exposure to germs at a young age helped prevent disease, while exposure as adults did not.  Lesson: exposure to germs and dirt at a young age was beneficial.

Small particles of dirt, pollen, etc, that deposit on line-dried clothes can be another way to let babies come in contact with these immune-protective factors.  I've heard some friends voice concern about line-drying diapers, for fear that insects could hitch a ride inside on diapers.  If this is a concern, air fluff diapers on low for a few minutes after line-drying outdoors.  If you still aren't convinced about line drying, at least let your child go outside and get dirty!

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