A new study suggests that the stereotypical environment in which we raise our daughters (think Barbie, Easy-Bake Ovens, and co.) isn’t just impacting her mental health, but her physical well-being, too! Researchers at Oregon State University are finding that immunity later in life can be linked back to the play habits of young children. Boys are traditionally encouraged to frolic in the dirt, make mud pies, and eat worms. Girls are kept tucked away indoors to play house in a Lysol-cleansed castle. In the short term there may be a cold or two, but in the long run it is the mud-pie-makers who are healthiest.
Dr. Aoi Mizushima explains: “There is some thought that getting exposed to things, even parasites and different microbial elements in the dirt, might actually improve the overall immunity that a child develops.”
It is also worth noting that this gender-disparity could potentially be connected to Lupus, an auto-immune disease that women experience nine times as frequently as men.
While the research is on-going and this cause-and-effect is likely multi-faceted, it’s certainly worth re-thinking the environment in which our children are raised. By playing into gender stereotypes, we’re potentially damaging the otherwise healthy futures of our daughters. After reading the study, I can’t wait to see my nieces in a few weeks and take them to the muddiest park I can find!
Thanks to My Northwest.
Image via Health Me Up.