Newborns Exposed to Dirt, Dander and Germs May Have Lower Allergy and Asthma Risk
June 7th, 2014
Infants exposed to rodent and pet dander, roach allergens and a wide variety of household bacteria in the first year of life appear less likely to suffer from allergies, wheezing and asthma, according to results of a study conducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and other institutions.
A report on the study, published on June 6 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, reveals that early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a protective effect by shaping children’s immune responses—a finding that researchers say may help inform preventive strategies for allergies and wheezing, both precursors to asthma.
“Our study shows that the timing of initial exposure may be critical,” says study author Robert Wood, M.D., chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. “What this tells us is that not only are many of our immune responses shaped in the first year of life, but also that certain bacteria and allergens play an important role in stimulating and training the immune system to behave a certain way.”