Should You Allow Your Kids To Eat Their Boogers? Here’s What Science Says About It.

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We all knew that one kid in school – the one who sat in the back of the room (or in the front, if they really dgaf), picked their nose like they were mining for gold, and ate their findings with relish.

It was gross, right? Unnatural. Something you would never do as an adult, and if you saw someone doing as an adult, you’d be tempted to call…someone who could do something about it.


That said, if your kid is that kid, science has some surprising news – it may lead to them being healthier (and happier?) in the long run.

A post on The Soccer Mom Blog is getting a lot of traction after saying that eating boogers is good for kids because of a theory that the previously shunned practice naturally build’s up one’s immune system.


Canadian biochemist and professor Scott Napper is quoted in the post, and in this CBC News article as well, voiding his support for the claim.

“By consuming those pathogens caught within the mucus, could that be a way to teach your immune system about what it’s surrounded with?”

He also wonders whether snot’s slightly sweet taste is meant to talk kids into eating it for just that purpose.

Napper and others like him believe that exposing our bodies to the germs trapped by our nasal passages could basically act as a vaccination without the having to get sick part of the process.

One dad wrote an article for Fatherly saying that there’s no real hard science or peer-reviewed studies to back up these claims, though Gary Freed, director of the General Pediatrics division at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, seems to fall in the same camp.

At least, he reiterates that there’s no danger in eating one’s own boogers (except a higher risk for nosebleeds).


The idea is that exposing our bodies to the germs trapped within our nose mucus builds up the body’s immune system, acting as a sort of vaccination against them. Of course, we should consider that kids are also sticking potentially germy fingers into their mouths in the process, so the immune system has a lot to contend with here.


A writer at Lifehacker reached out to Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, an allergy and immunology expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to weigh in:

“There is no direct data, but generally speaking, we think exposure to bacteria is good for kids.”

A sentiment echoed by another, anonymous pediatrician who said,

“I do believe in the ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ which says that kids who are exposed to different environmental factors – dirt, bacteria viruses, fungus – when they’re young, the more robust their immune systems will be when they get older.

I wouldn’t encourage a kid to eat their boogers, or roll in bacteria, but I don’t think we shield them in bubble.”

If, like me, you’re still shuddering from words like ‘mucus’ and ‘slightly sweet’ in the same sentence, well…it sounds like looking the other way might be the best and safest course of action.

Godspeed with all of that.