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Since the pandemic, children have had reduced exposure to all sorts of microbes due to social distancing, sporadic quarantines, and increased hand-washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Due to these precautions, there has been significant decreases in annual colds and seasonal flu in many countries. Research suggests that adopting these new habits can also reduce the spread of other common respiratory illnesses.
However, this seems to contradict a study done in Finland where a daycare facility was manipulated to test changes in the children’s microbiome. A small forest was planted in their otherwise urban environment, with the children encouraged to take care of crops and play in the soil. After only 28 days, the microbes in the children’s guts and on their skin were healthier and an increase in T-cells and other important immune markers could be seen in their blood. This indicates that isolating children from certain microbiomes could have negative effects on their future immunity.
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