Turns out a bit of dirt isn’t that bad for newborns.
Babies who grow up in farms have lower asthma and allergy rates, and scientists decided to investigate to see whether this is due to the children’s exposure to allergens and other microorganism found in the soil.
The researchers also found that urban babies who are constantly exposed to roach and mouse allergens have an increased risk of developing asthma, but oddly enough if the children are exposed to these before their first birthday they are almost immune to them. So is there a link between these two findings?
After collecting data from 467 infants and 104 homes, the scientists found that exposure to allergens during the first 12 months of life results in lower rates of asthma and allergies compared to children who are not exposed to allergens soon after birth. This helps to explain why babies who grow up in farms have lower asthma rates: they are exposed to allergens from the minute they are born.
Surprisingly children free of wheezing and allergies at age 3 grew up in houses with the highest levels of allergens, reports ScienceDaily—41 percent of allergy-free kids have spent their first few years on life in allergen- and bacteria-rich homes.
"Our study shows that the timing of initial exposure may be critical," says Robert Wood, chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Centre in a release. "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."
The results of this study are important because asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, and researchers are trying to find ways to change that.