Green play areas boost children’s immune systems

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Green play areas boost children's immune systems




recreation finland


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recreation finland


As the autoimmune diseasesScientists, especially in children, investigate ways to find solutions. And one of the last ones is hopeful since the first experimental study showing that nature could help.

Diseases such as asthma, eczema, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, are some of those that have increased the most. There are experts who believe that a possible main explanation for this trend, called hygiene hypothesis, is that children are exposed to far fewer germs than in the past.

A very comfortable immune system

The study, published in Science Advance, states that by deliberately changing children’s environments, it is possible to improve immune system development with relatively simple changes in their life environments, especially in urban children.

The study involved 75 children in two cities in Finland. “When we saw the results, we were very surprised because they were very solid,” he said. Aki Sinkkonen, from the Finnish Institute of Natural Resources, who led the work. “Our study can pave the way for new preventive practices to reduce the global epidemic of immune diseases“.

His team has now started another line of investigation to see If giving babies a boost in microbe diversity then lowers the levels of autoimmune diseases.

From cement to forest

The research was carried out by a team of experts in medicine, ecology and urban planning. The children were between three and five years old and were distributed among 10 nurseries with very similar characteristics

At four centers, natural forest lawns, with dwarf shrubs, blueberries, blueberries and mosses, were installed in previously empty play areas. The children spent an average of 90 minutes a day outdoors and were encouraged to play with the plants and soil. “It was easy because the green area was the most exciting place on the playground,” Sinkkonen said. The cost of each green yard was around 5,000 euros, less than the annual maintenance budgets for those same yards.

Tests after 28 days showed that Microbe diversity on children’s skin was one-third higher than that of those still playing on stone courtyards and significantly increased in the gut. Blood samples showed beneficial changes in a variety of proteins and cells related to the immune systemincluding anti-inflammatory cytokines and regulatory T cells.

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