News / Health

Early Exposure to Dirt, Dander Could Prevent Allergies, Asthma

File - Exposure to allergens such as cat dander before age one may protect against allergies and asthma, according to new research.  (Via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stark23x/">Flickr</a>
File - Exposure to allergens such as cat dander before age one may protect against allergies and asthma, according to new research. (Via Flickr

Related Articles

South Sudan Cholera Cases, Deaths on Rise

A U.N. official says 27 people have died of cholera and the number of cases has nearly doubled since last week, rising from 586 to 1,106.

US Backs New Genetic Research on Infectious Diseases

National Institutes of Health awards $25 million to back initiative to study diseases like malaria and influenza at genetic level to help find better treatments, preventive measures
VOA News
There's some new research that might not sit well with fastidious new mothers and clean-freak new fathers.

Exposure to pet dander, roach droppings and other household bacteria in the first year of life appears to reduce the chances a person will suffer from allergies or asthma, according to a new study.
 
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center found that exposure to allergens in the first year of life was important in order for exposure to be beneficial.

Previous studies had shown that children who grew up on farms are less likely to develop allergies or asthma because of their exposure to allergens,
 
"Our study shows that the timing of initial exposure may be critical," says study author Robert Wood, M.D., chief of the division of allergy and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in a statement released today. "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."
 
Researchers hope the findings will lead to ways to prevent allergies and wheezing, which are both precursors to asthma.
 
Asthma is one of the most common pediatric illnesses, affecting some 7 million children in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
For the study, Wood and his colleagues tracked 467 inner-city newborns from Baltimore, Boston, New York and St. Louis. Over three years, they visited them to measure levels and types of common allergens in their homes.
 
They also tested the children for allergies and wheezing using blood tests, skin-prick tests, physical exams and parental surveys.
 
They also took bacterial counts on samples of dust collected from some of the homes.
 
What they found was that children exposed to mouse and cat dander as well as cockroach droppings in their first year of life “had lower rates of wheezing at age three, compared with children not exposed to these allergens soon after birth.”
 
Researchers also found that exposure to all three was better than one, two or none.
 
Wheezing was three times more common for children not exposed to allergens compared to those who were exposed to all three.
 
A greater variety of bacteria proved better at stemming allergies and wheezing, researchers said.
 
The amount of allergens was also critical, as researchers said children free of wheezing and allergies at age three had gorwn up surrounded by the highest levels of household allergens. Forty-one percent of those without wheezing and allergies grew up in bacteria-rich homes. Only 8 percent of those who had wheezing and allergies had been exposed to allergens in their first year of life.
 
According to Wood, the children tracked in the study are now turning seven and are being checked again to see if exposure to allergens early in life was still reducing the prevalence of allergies and wheezing.
 
A report on the study was published today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Edward Yeranian from: Cairo, Egypt
June 08, 2014 9:08 AM
An Egyptian friend who is a medical doctor tells me that he frequently allows mosquitoes to bite him because it will help his immune system. I've also noticed that the flies and mosquitoes tend to avoid Egyptians, gravitating instead to foreigners.......who, one presumes, must have tastier blood. Undoubtedly, there are implications to that which deserve a study.
Edward Yeranian, Cairo


by: Nell Nockles from: London, UK
June 07, 2014 1:18 AM
Exposure to cat, and house dust mite proteins (allergens) can happen long before birth. They can be found in the 'soup' babies drink and excrete and may be protective. It all depends upon amounts, genes and maternal nutrition etc. See Professor Graham Devereux


by: youwouldthink
June 06, 2014 8:32 PM
I think the scientists are not interpreting the data right. What I think the study might actually be showing is how cleaning products and insecticides impact children's immune systems.


by: Eric from: San Francisco
June 06, 2014 6:26 PM
I grew up on a farm and was exposed to everything from bee stings to horses, family pets and various grass and plant pollen from an early age. Still had allergies and asthma so I question how valid this study is.

In Response

by: sunny
June 08, 2014 7:37 PM
There are always deviant cases in studies, since not everyone is the exact same. The article also says that "children who grew up on farms are less likely to develop allergies or asthma"-- less likely.. that doesn't mean that it definitely won't happen. It just means that there were less cases of allergies and asthma in the test population of children who grew up on farms.

In Response

by: Jon from: Boston
June 07, 2014 4:38 AM
Take a statistics class. You are an N of 1.


by: Russell Utoft
June 06, 2014 6:26 PM
This has been known for a long time. I was brought in the late 40s and 50s and I don't remember that many kids having the allergies that kids have today. But what is the answer ?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid