Pets and pests could stave off childhood asthma

A new study suggests that infantile exposure to indoor allergens may prevent childhood asthma
New research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that exposing children to pet and other common indoor allergens before the age of 3 may prevent the development of asthma.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, over 8 percent of children under the age of 18 have asthma.

It is known that once a child has developed asthma, exposure to certain allergens may worsen their symptoms. Exposure to pollen, pet dander, or dust mites should be avoided for children with the condition.

However, new research suggests that pet allergens, together with some pest ones, may have the opposite – and therefore a preventative – effect, as long as the children are exposed to the allergens before the age of 3.

The study was led by Dr. James E. Gern, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and it was conducted as part of the ongoing Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma (URECA) study.

Studying allergens and asthma

The URECA study started in 2005. Since then, researchers have examined asthma risk factors among 560 children born in Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, New York City, NY, and St. Louis, MO.

These children were at high risk of developing the condition because at least one of their parents had asthma or other allergies.

As part of the URECA study, children born in 2005 were clinically followed until now, and the present study assessed these children until they reached the age of 7.

Of the 560 inner-city children, Dr. Gern and team had a sufficient amount of data on 442. Of these, 130 children (or 29 percent) developed asthma.

Allergens were sampled from the children’s homes at three different time points: when the children were 3 months old, 2 years old, and 3 years old.

The researchers used 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing to analyze the house dust microbiome. They identified 202 bacterial taxa that were more abundant in the homes of children with asthma, and 171 that were less abundant.

Source: Medical News Today
by Ana Sandoiu


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