Are thumb-sucking and nail-biting bad for kids?

October 1, 2016

Investigators examine whether thumb-sucking and nail-biting are all that bad.

Thumb-sucking and nail-biting may not be all bad. Children who suck their thumbs or bite their nails between ages 5 and 11 years are less likely than youngsters without these habits to have atopic sensitization at age 13 years and beyond, a study in more than 1000 New Zealanders found. Investigators noted that since thumb-sucking and nail-biting probably increase microbial exposure, these findings offer additional support for the hygiene hypothesis (Lynch SJ, et al. Pediatrics. 2016;138[2]:e20160443).  

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Ms Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. She has nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.