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 <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stark23x/">Flickr</a>

    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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora