Mums’ exposure to farm animals during pregnancy cuts atopic dermatitis risk in kids

December 3rd, 2010 - 5:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 3 (ANI): Swiss researchers have revealed that women who spend their pregnancy period in the proximity of farm animals and cats have children with a reduced risk of developing atopic dermatitis in their first two years of life.

Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is a chronic and extremely painful inflammation of the skin that frequently occurs in early childhood, generally already in infancy.

Earlier research has indicated that allergies were less common in children who grew up on farms and whose mothers lived on farms during their pregnancy.

Exposure to farm animals and bacteria frequently found in farms as well as drinking milk from the dairy offered the immune system protection. However, proof of this protective effect in connection with atopic dermatitis had remained elusive.

Now, Roger Lauener, Caroline Roduit and their colleagues from the University of Zurich have analysed how prenatal environmental factors and genetic mechanisms influence the development of atopic dermatitis during the first two years of life.

They examined over 1,000 children in rural areas of five European countries - Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland.

Of the 1,063 children, 508 were from families that lived on farms while 555 were not farm children.

The researchers identified two genes in these children that are of vital importance for innate immunity and were able to link the expression of these genes to a lower likelihood of a doctor diagnosis of an allergic condition.

The findings of the study are not only significant in the face of the frequency of the disease and the suffering it causes but also support the theory that gene-environment interaction with the developing immune system influences the development of atopic dermatitis in young children.

The study is published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. (ANI)

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