Dirty kids = brainy kids?

Looks like a nightmare doesn't it? The thought of my boys playing in the mud like this send shivers up my spine. I'm consumed with images of them up all night with raging fevers and blocked noses, my laundry pile growing higher than it usually is, the mud being trodden through the house, the notion that if I let them do it once they'll want to do it every time there's a cloud in the sky... I even went so far last week during the rain, to leave my husband with instructions to make mud pies with them for an entertainment idea. Clearly he's just as horrified by the thought as I am and ignored my suggestion taking them to an indoor play centre instead.

But did you know researchers from the Kidsafe NSW Playground Advisory Unit have found that playing in the mud can make children smarter? Apparently! A new study has shown there is a positive side of soil-borne bacteria that is likely to be inhaled when children are playing outside. Fraser said soil bacteria in mud can also increase serotonin levels when inhaled, so it also reduces anxiety which ultimately can stimulate growth of certain neurons in the brain. The research was welcomed by Kidsafe NSW Playground Advisory Unit program manager Kate Fraser as another reason kids should be encouraged to get outside and get dirty. But Fraser also warned parents to be careful to choose the mud, because some mud can be contaminated with harmful bacteria. “As long as the safety direction is followed, then playing in the mud can be a great experience for children,” said Fraser.

Unfortunately a what's what list of good and bad mud wasn't supplied, but I'm guessing you just use commonsense and don't let them loose in mud that's been lying about for an extended period of time, is green, smelly or mud that comes with a public loo nearby etc. Colour me convinced. I'm giving it a go. Next wet day (which could be sooner than I'd like here in Sydney at the moment) we're into it. I'll be the mother taking deep breaths in the corner of the playground...
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