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Gastrointestinal Illnesses Linked to Sand

Study Shows That More Than Treasures Are Hidden in Sand

Children are catching more than hidden treasures while digging at the beach. According to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, tots under the age of 11 who play in the sand are 44 percent more likely to come down with a gastrointestinal illness or diarrhea than those who don't, while lil ones that like to be buried in the sand are 27 percent more likely to become ill. It seems that the action of digging through the top eight inches of beach sand can bring E. coli and other bacteria to the surface, increasing children's chances of getting sick.

Though none of the ill kids required medical treatment, researchers noted that the best way to keep beach-goers safe is to keep the sand out of their mouths. In doing so, the bacteria will not reach their digestive systems and they should remain healthy throughout their sandy adventures. Last month, we posted about a mother who forbids her son to play in sandboxes. The piece garnered such passionate responses that we decided to poll readers on the topic. Eighty-one percent said they weren't worried about the germs. In light of this study, has your opinion changed?

Image Source: Getty
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domino2728 domino2728 7 years
Playing in the sand and going to the beach should be a part of childhood. Children are not supposed to eat sand, but sometimes they try and as a parent, I will always try to prevent it.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
Aw what? I always thought it boosted your immune system! lolI agree with lilsugar though, as long as they don't eat it, they should be fine.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 7 years
Aw what? I always thought it boosted your immune system! lol I agree with lilsugar though, as long as they don't eat it, they should be fine.
Moms Moms 7 years
We live within walking distance of the beach. My kids have grown up going there — it's a place of childhood memories where they can run, dig and get as dirty or wet as they want. Since they don't eat sand, I'm not worried.
FrankiLee FrankiLee 7 years
I can understand not letting my daughter eat the sand. That's totally fine. But I'm not going to forbid her to play in the sand at the beach, or at the sandbox. I know they're not totally sanitary, but some of my best memories as a child are playing with my brother in the sandbox. I'm not going to deprive my children of that! I'll just make sure they wash their hands afterwards :)
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