Childhood Allergies? Take 'em to the Farm!
New Study Supports the Hygiene Hypothesis
Posted by The Baby News
Farm kids apparently don't worry about hay fever - even if they're playing in a dusty hay barn.
A study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found far fewer allergies and instances of asthma among Amish children growing up on farms. Dr. Mark Holbreich, who conducted the study, says he saw small kids caring for goats, chickens, ponies and cows. They romped through dusty fields full of weeds and pollen-loaded grass. But he rarely saw a child with a runny nose, red eyes or rash.
Holbreich believes the farm children's exposure to the outdoors increased their allergen-fighting powers. Suburban and city toddlers spend most of their time inside tightly built homes or daycares with windows sealed against the outside air.
Gainesville GA allergist Nish told NPR the study supports the "hygiene hypothesis." The hypothesis is that a child's immune system learns to fight allergens by being exposed the germs and pollen found in dirt and fresh air.
"It looks like with our modern conditions and cleanliness, that we have fewer and fewer germs to fight off," Nish explained.
Other studies have found that farm kids have a lower instance of allergies than city and suburban kids. But Holbreich discovered 25% of children on modern farms with perks like AC and TV had allergies while only 7% of Amish children suffered. About half of all American children are allergy sensitive, Holbreich added.
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