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Can Early Exposure to Bacteria Lower Allergy Risk?

Can Early Exposure to Bacteria Lower Allergy Risk?

Children who are exposed to a wide range of bacteria as infants are less at risk of developing allergies, says a new study by Danish researchers. Ironically, something that has long been considered a threat to public health — bacteria –could actually  be a “fundamental part of a healthy life.”

Today, 25 percent of the population of Denmark suffers from allergies, or oversensitivity diseases. Professor Hans Bisgaard, professor of children’s diseases at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and other researchers studied 411 children whose mothers have asthma. The children were monitored, interviewed and tested continually from birth on. Researchers found a connection between intestinal bacteria and the child’s risk of developing allergies later in life:

Reduced diversity of the intestinal microbiota during infancy was associated with increased risk of allergic disease at school age. But if there was considerable diversity, the risk was reduced, and the greater the variation, the lower the risk.

Researchers considered a child’s exposure to bacteria in the womb, in the birth process and in the first six months of life, says Bisgaard:

“So it makes a difference if the baby is born vaginally, encountering the first bacteria from its mother’s rectum, or by caesarean section, which exposes the new-born baby to a completely different, reduced variety of bacteria. This may be why far more children born by caesarean section develop allergies.”

Early in life, the immune system is still developing and “learning.” At this time, there’s a brief “window” when an infant’s system is “immunologically immature,” when it can be influenced by bacteria. Children who were missed that “window” and whose intestinal bacteria were therefore less diverse are at greater risk for “allergic sensitization, allergic rhinitis, and peripheral blood eosinophilia, but not asthma or atopic dermatitis, in the first 6 years of life.”

That is, researchers suggest that “protecting” an infant from exposure to a broad range of bacteria is potentially more harmful, as doing so increases a child’s risk of allergies. The Danish study certainly offers food for thought in this day and age when so much effort is taken to prevent young children from coming into contact with those dreaded things, germs, whether on shopping cart seats or any sort of public space; when anti-bacterial products of all sorts are touted for their keeping your child “safe.” Could it be that, in our efforts to keep our little ones healthy, we may be losing out on a chance to help them build up valuable immunities to future allergies?

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49 comments

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8:52PM PST on Dec 8, 2011

I am in total agreement and am now witnessing effects on my grandchild who was given a seven day IV regimen of antibiotics at birth as a prophylactic precaution because his mother showed Strep B in her system during a "routine pregnancy screening." This was something not done many years ago. He now has eczema and respiratory allergic symptoms, which the doctors treat with antibiotics. The medical profession, pharmaceutical industry and cleaning agent hawkers have turned us into a nation of germaphobes, which makes us sicker and them richer.

10:53PM PST on Nov 10, 2011

Martha E. i agree with you:)
Thanks for sharing.

6:37PM PST on Nov 9, 2011

I had no allergies as a child and certainly played in dirt while enjoying the sunny outdoors. None of my family members ever suffered from allergies. When I was aged 19 I briefly suffered from allergies from a certain deodorant and mascara, and just changed products.

Fortunately, that soon passed and I had not further allergy problems until moving to Canada some 30 years later. I use a netti pot several times a day and have tried to cut down on my two cortisone-filled puffers and nasal puffer. It's dreadful to use so much cortisone! I believe my allergies are due to the hosts of chemicals that are used in all foods and carcinogens and nanoparticles in fuel and in the air.

5:52PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Makes perfect sense -- it's the old common sense of women, allowing their children to play in dirt, be exposed to things (mothers used to allow this), because it makes them stronger, more resistant to the world. Since many many allergies arise because of food and environmental agents, exposure to some bacteria, will make the child stronger. Too much protection causes a weakened system. Common sense.

5:15PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Thanks for the information from Danish research. The same conclusions from American immunologists' work.

3:11PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Interesting.

12:11PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Well, it was about time to admit that too much sterility around us is unnatural.

9:14AM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Everyone is sooooo afraid of bacteria! It's ridiculous. How are our bodies supposed to build natural immunity without being exposed to germs?? I hate walking into a house with children that is spotless with air purifiers in every room. Crazy. Please, let your kids eat dirt, pick trash up off the ground, get face kisses from dogs and play anywhere without dousing them in antibacterial gel!!

9:07AM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Sure, if you're sturdy enough from birth to tolerate nature in all its forms ... diluted, poluted, etc. If not, you just get sick/die.

6:46AM PST on Nov 8, 2011

( Allergic ) ASTHMA Can be Prevented.

Today’s Infant Allergy MARCH = Tomorrow’s Child Allergic ASTHMA.

While there is No CURE for Allergic ASTHMA > It Can be Prevented !

For 1 in 3 INFANTs, Allergy MARCH begins at Birth with an Allergy to Cow Milk manifesting via Eczema > Then GI / Colic ( Milk or EGG) > Ear Issues > Respiratory / Wheezing > Rhinitis > Entrenchment of Allergic ASTHMA by Age 4-8.

Sure you can spend precious time trying to figure out your Child's Food Allergy Sources,
but in most situations the Child's Allergy MARCH has already ReInvented itself to Respiratory on its way to Allergic ASTHMA.

A simple / $ 75.00 / FDA Approved / OTC Non-Prescription / IgE Allergy Blood Test will Test ID not only offending FOODs > But also Inhalants i.e. Dust Mite.

Allowing Anti-ACTION !

 DIET modification for offending FOODs

 And Self Administered Immuno-Allergy DROPs which are Drug Free, Custom Formulated to Neutralize Source of Offending Inhalants.

The “Window” of Testing / Treatment toward derailing progression to Allergic ASTHMA is very short...

While there is No CURE for Allergic ASTHMA

> The progression of Allergy MARCH can be Challenged and Stopped before it migrates to Allergic ASTHMA…

But the luxury of Time is NOT on your Child’s side

> So begin today with a visit to your Any USA Physician today and DropYourAllergies .com

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