‘Dirty’ Kids Lower Allergy Risk

According to a study at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and other institutions, the findings revealed that early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a protective effect by shaping children’s immune responses – a finding that researchers say may help inform preventive strategies for allergies and wheezing, both precursors to asthma. 
According to Robert Wood, MD., chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology, there are many immune responses that are shaped in the first year of life and that certain bacteria and allergens play an important role in stimulating and training the immune system to behave a certain way. In the study, infants that grew up in homes with mouse and cat dander and cockroach droppings in the first year of life had lower rates of wheezing at age three compared to children raised in “clean” homes not exposed to these allergens. In addition, infants in homes with a greater variety of bacteria were less likely to develop environmental allergies and wheezing by age three. Some 41 percent of allergy-free and wheeze-free children had grown up in such allergen and bacteria-rich homes. By contrast, only 8 percent of children with wheezing and allergies had been exposed to these substances in their first year of life.
Source: Jnl of allergy and Clinical Immunology – June 2014

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