We all know that children need to get lots of exercise, getting their hands dirty, absorbing some of that ray of sunshine in order to be the ray of sunshine. However, with the rapid development of the city ad technology, it inadvertently causes kids to miss out on playing outdoors but instead, being completely immersed in technology to keep them entertained. Of course, it is completely understandable that with the ongoing pandemic, bringing children outdoors will potentially pose a risk to their health as well. Nevertheless, keeping children indoors for a long period of time might potentially weaken a child’s immune system.
According to an experiment conducted in Finland, playing through the greenery and litter of mini forest’s undergrowth for a month may be enough to change a child’s immune system.
A day-care in Finland adopted this method of infusing greens for the children in order to boost their immune system. First, the workers rolled out a lawn, planted forest undergrowth and allowed children to care for crops in planter boxes.
Over a short period of time, the diversity of microbes in the guts and on the skin of young kids appeared healthier in comparison. Compare to city kids, the children in the day-care centres showed increased T-cells and other important immune markers in their blood within 28 days.
“We also found that the intestinal microbiota of children who received greenery was similar to the intestinal microbiota of children visiting the forest every day,” explained environmental scientist Marja Roslund from the University of Helsinki in 2020, when the research was published.
Earlier research has shown that exposure to green space is linked to a well-functioning immune system, however, it is not certain if the relationship is casual or otherwise. The experiment in Finland is the first to explicitly manipulate a child’s urban environment and then test for changes in their microbiome and, in turn, a child’s immune system.
While the experiment did not yield anything concrete, yet the results supported an idea – a change in environmental microbes can easily affect a well-established microbiome in children, aiding in the boost of their immune system in the process.
This poses a question whether Malaysia should have a fusion day-care, where day-cares can incorporate more greens in their facilities for the betterment of the children. Instead of vying for cost effectiveness and space, urban landscaping should put more focus into the health and growth of children. After all, they are the future of the nation. Who concur?