Farm kids suffer less from asthma, allergies (Lead)

September 2nd, 2008 - 1:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 2 (IANS) Pre-natal exposure to farm animals and plants helps protect children from asthma, allergies and eczema, says a New Zealand study. Researchers from Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research in Wellington discovered that farmers’ children had a lower incidence of allergic diseases than children not exposed to animals, grain and hay products.

Jeroen Douwes of the Centre said it was the first study to show a direct link between such exposures and a significant reduction in asthma symptoms, hay fever and eczema.

The research team surveyed 1,333 farmers’ children and a reference group of 566 children aged between five to 17 years for the study.

It found that children with both pre-natal and current exposure to farm animals were 50 percent less likely to have asthma than the reference group. Similar results were found for other allergic diseases such as eczema and hay fever.

Douwes said a more detailed study of infants was needed to fully understand the link between exposure and reduction of disease.

“We need more information from pregnant women and their children, so we are continuing to recruit participants to the study,” Douwes informed.

“In future, we may be able to develop a vaccine that could mimic exposure, or outline how people could make lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of allergic disease.”

The findings have been published in the European Respiratory Journal.

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