‘Forest floors’ in daycare centres boost children’s immunity

In an innovative experiment conducted in Finland recently, child daycare workers rolled out a lawn, planted forest undergrowth such as dwarf heather and blueberries, and encouraged children to tend to plants in planter boxes over a one-month period. The results indicated that the children showed vastly improved immunity measured in terms of diversity of microbes in the stomach.

According to Marja Roslund, environmental scientist at the University of Helsinki who was involved in the experiment, 3-5-year-olds at the greened-up daycare centres in Finland showed increased T-cells in their blood within 28 days compared with children enroled in urban daycare centres with yards of pavement, tile and gravel. “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,” says Roslund who has published the study results in the journal Science Advances (October).

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