A little dirt might be good for us

A little dirt might be good for us

Research continues to seek an explanation for the escalating frequency of allergy problems and asthma.

The leading hypothesis for this phenomenon of burgeoning allergies is the Hygiene Hypothesis. Simply stated, it posits that we are too clean, which leaves immune systems idle. This idleness leads to deviant behavior in the form of allergy, asthma and autoimmune conditions.

Researchers at the University of Munich just published their findings in this regard in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Their study included 16,511 children living on farms in Bavaria and Austria, and matched controls living in urban settings.

The results were very interesting.

First of all, the farm children all had a much-reduced risk for developing asthma than the city children. Secondly, the risk reduction was directly related to the diversity of microbial exposure the children had.

In other words, the greater variety of bacteria and fungi they were exposed to, the greater the risk reduction.

The research scientists visited the homes and farms of all the study children and took samples that were subjected to standard culture techniques and a special DNA analysis.

Based on their sampling studies they found that farm children were exposed to greater a variety of microbes both outdoors and inside their homes. They mused that the farmers must track the microbes into the house on shoes and clothing. In general, these microbes do not cause infections, but they do keep the children’s immune systems busy identifying and cataloging the bacteria and fungi.

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