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 Flickr
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

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs