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Photo: various brennemans via Flickr

Battling habits like thumb-sucking and nail-biting is no fun at all, and our pediatricians and dentists make sure we know exactly how bad the habits are.

But according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, it’s not all bad news: kids who suck their thumbs or bite their nails may have a lower risk of developing allergies.

“The findings support the ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ the idea that reduced exposure to microbial organisms, in other words increased hygiene, is responsible for the rise in allergic diseases seen over recent decades,” said University of Otago Professor Bob Hancox, the study’s lead author.

Despite these findings, Professor Hancox and his co-authors don’t suggest that we should encourage kids to take up these habits, because their study isn’t conclusive.

Do your kids suck their thumbs or bite their nails? Do you? Tell us in the comments!