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Too-Clean Homes May Encourage Child Allergies, Asthma: Study
Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:15

We've been told from the get-go to sterilise milk bottles and keep everything super clean but now a new study has found bubs that roll in dust, dander and droppings before the age of one appear to have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies.


Roll in dung before you turn one.  A recent American study of 467 inner city newborns by Dr Robert Wood has suggested that infants who are exposed to a diverse range of bacterial species in house dust in their first year of life are less likely to develop asthma in early childhood.


The study found infants brought up in homes which had dust containing mouse and cat dander (shed skin cells) and cockroach droppings had lower rates of wheezing at age three, compared with children not exposed to these allergens in the first year of life.  Furthermore, infants in homes with a greater variety of bacteria were less likely to develop environmental allergies and wheezing at age three.  Children free of wheezing and allergies at age 3 had grown up with the highest levels of household allergens and were the most likely to live in houses with the richest array of bacterial species.


Study author and chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, Dr Robert Wood, said the study shows the timing of the initial exposure may be critical.


"What this tells us is that not only are many of our immune responses shaped in the first year of life, but also that certain bacteria and allergens play an important role in stimulating and training the immune system to behave a certain way."  Dr Wood said.


The finding supports previous research that suggested different types of microbes can have an impact on future immune responses and is also consistent with the so-called hygeine hypothesis, that children who grow up in too-clean environments may develop hypersensitive immune systems that make them prone to allergies.


Adapted from an article in the Asthma NSW newsletter, August 2014


SOURCES: Robert Wood, M.D., Chief, Division of Allergy and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Children's Center; Todd Mahr, M.D., Allergist-Immunologist, La Crosse, Wis., and Chair, American Academy of Pediatrics' Section on Allergy and Immunology; June 6, 2014, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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