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?