and Dust Arm You Against Allergies
(HealthScoutNews) -- Allergic disorders
such as asthma, hay fever and eczema are on the rise in industrialized
nations, and British researchers are saying that could be because
children's immune systems aren't challenged enough.
In research published in the August issue of Biologist,
scientists from Royal Free and University College Medical School
in London found those adults who were given antibiotics when they
were children were more likely to suffer from allergic disease.
They also discovered you are less likely to be allergic if you:
- Had older siblings, especially brothers
- Rarely washed your hands or face as a child
- Lived in a home with bacteria-laden dust
- Were brought up on a farm with animals
- Had a dog
- Had a childhood infection that was transmitted by fecal to
- Grew up in Communist, rather than Western, Europe.
The scientists explain that one of the immune system's most
important jobs is to learn when not to respond. Like the
brain, the immune system learns as it grows. If the immune system
isn't exposed to harmless bacteria in childhood, some researchers
believe it will learn to mistake harmless substances such as pet
dander as a threat.
This idea isn't a completely new one.
It was first proposed in 1989 and dubbed "The Hygiene Hypothesis."
However, the authors of the current article, Dr. Graham Rook and
Laura Rosa Brunet, say the rise of allergic disorders and possibly
diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory
bowel diseases may be the result of obsessive cleanliness and
the use of antibiotics and vaccinations, because all of these
things may deprive the immune system of the chance to learn to
Rook and Brunet came to their conclusions after reviewing more
than a dozen past studies. Their findings don't, however, mean
they are advocating giving up modern advances.
"Hygiene, antibiotics and vaccines are the most valuable
creations of medicine. They save millions of lives," Rook
says. "However, we also need to identify the environmental
microorganisms that drive maturation of the immunoregulatory circuits,
so that they can be put back into our environments as additional
vaccines or food supplements."
"It's an interesting way to look at things," says
Dr. Clifford Bassett, an allergist from New York University Medical
Center in New York. "But, I'm not sold on the link. I don't
think you can say people are getting more allergies because of
He says the best thing for people with allergies to do is work
with their doctors to identify what triggers their specific allergies,
and to avoid those allergens.
What To Do
For more information on the hygiene hypothesis, read this article
University of Southern California or this one from the U.K.'s
National Asthma Campaign.
Reference Source 101