Childhood Asthma May Be Reduced by Living on a Farm

New research has found that children living on farms have lower rates of asthma when compared to children who don’t live on a farm. The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, incorporated data from two studies involving over 15,000 European children.

Dust samples from mattresses and bedrooms were collected for both groups and analyzed for bacteria and fungi. For both studies, children living on farms had greater exposure to environmental microorganisms and lower rates of both asthma and atopy (a tendency to develop allergic reactions).

Increased exposure to bacteria and fungi has been speculated to be related to the presence of farm animals such as pigs, horses and cows. Exposure in childhood to a wide variety of microorganisms may attune the immune system early on to be able to distinguish between “bad” ones and those that are not a threat. Dust in urban and suburban homes doesn’t have the same diversity of microorganisms, which could contribute to a less sensitive immune system. “Maybe our immune system doesn’t work quite as well when these microbes are missing,” said James Gern from the University of Wisconsin. (Source:

One thing that wasn’t discussed thoroughly in the research abstract was the possibility the children living on farms have far less exposure to air pollution, and of a different kind than children not living on farms.

The concept that early childhood exposure to bacteria and fungi could aid in the immune system’s development and possibly reduce the rates of diseases like asthma is not new. Several studies have previously investigated such a relationship. A study in 2002 of exposure to cats and dogs in the first year of life found it might reduce the risk of developing sensitivities to various allergens.

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Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W4 years ago

I'm sure it's not a matter of bacteria, but of cleaner air.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Ajla C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Da,slažem se.

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago


Genevieve L.
Genevieve L4 years ago

As per the question wether children living on a farm might be exposed to less air pollution, not necessarily. Conventional large-scale farms use an array of pesticides, to which the children are exposed in larger doses than city children. In some rural areas, this problem is so bad that the children actually have more allergies and asthma than city children. You'd have to compare children raised on conventional vs organic farms to get a more accurate picture of the protecting effects of exposure to soil bacteria.

Patrick Whyte
Patrick Whyte6 years ago


colleen prinssen
colleen p6 years ago

I swear I saw militant vegans say eating animal products causes asthma and makes it worse

mrs v.
valerie murphy6 years ago

very interesting but not surprised.

Cyrille D.
Cyrille D6 years ago

I confirm : living on a farm DOES help asthmatic children a lot ! My brother's ex-girlfriend suffered of a terrible asthma as a child, but, living on a farm, surrounded by dozens of cats, chickens, rabbits, etc. helped her heal enormously. So much so that she doesn't suffer any crisis anymore and can live happily and peacefully with her own pets.