Go ahead and let your kids roll around in the dirt. Let them pet the animals and muck the stalls.
A recent study published in Science has proven that kids who have been raised with an exposure to common bacteria and other microbes on farms are less likely to develop allergies.
The study showed that only 25% of farm kids in their test group reacted to common allergens — dust mites, mold, pollen, animals. Compare that to the standard 45% of children of the general population who react to the same allergens. What other conclusion can you draw except farm dirt is good for you?
The science behind this conclusion points to a protein some people develop in their lungs, while others others do not. In the study, the protein, A20, was developed by mice who had been exposed to farm dust. Unexposed mice did not develop the protein. A20 develops in the mucous membranes in the lungs.
Bart Lambrecht and Hamida Hammad, the researchers behind the study, make sure they point out that farm dust and A20 are most likely not the only factors that affect allergy development and prevention. However, their findings are an important step in developing more effective allergy prevention. Vaccines delivered in aerosol form may have a greater success rate than classic injections.
While there is still much to learn about the causes of allergies and their prevention, this study is a big step forward. And now we can all say safely — at least when it comes to germs — “Go play in the barn!”
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