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Newborn exposure to dirt, dander and germs may have an upside

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There are always concerns about keeping things clean enough for newborn babies. Yet, new research has paradoxically shown that exposure to non-sterile situations may benefit the health of kids. Early life exposure to high levels of certain allergens and bacteria in early life might be beneficial reported The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on June 6, 2014.

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Wheezing illnesses have been noted to cause major morbidity in infants and are frequent precursors to asthma. Researchers sought to examine environmental factors which are associated with recurrent wheezing in inner-city environments. It was observed that cumulative allergen exposure during the first 3 years was associated with allergic sensitization. Furthermore, sensitization at age 3 years was associated with recurrent wheeze. However, first-year exposure to cockroach, mouse, and cat allergens was found to be negatively associated with recurrent wheeze.

The researchers concluded that overall in inner-city environments kids with the highest exposure to specific allergens and bacteria during their first year of life were least likely to have recurrent wheeze and allergic sensitization. It has been suggested by these findings that concomitant exposure to high levels of certain allergens and bacteria in early life might be beneficial. This suggests new preventive strategies may be possible for wheezing and allergic diseases.

It's true, newborns who are exposed to dirt, dander and germs may actually have lower allergy and asthma risk reported John Hopkins School of Medicine on June 6, 2014. It has however been noted by the researchers that the protective effects of these exposures disappear when infants are exposed to these substances after their first year. The so-called hygiene hypothesis is supported by these findings. This hypothesis states that kids who grow up in environments which are too clean may develop hypersensitive immune systems that make them prone to allergies. This finding opens up new horizons in dealing with considerations of what are healthy environments for newborns.

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