Lower occurrence of atopic dermatitis (eczema) among children whose mothers spent their pregnancy on a farm

The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI) has published evidence supporting the theory that mothers’ exposure to farm animals protects their offspring from atopic dermatitis in their first year of life. Earlier research has already indicated that children who grow up on farms or whose mothers grew up on farms have a reduced incidence of atopic dermatitis (see FM report – 2009).

Proof of the protective effect of exposure to farm animals and drinking the milk from the dairy has been scarce, until now. Caroline Roduit, from the research team of Roger Lauener at the University of Zurich has presented a study in JACI which collected data from 1063 children from Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland. 508 children were from families who lived on farms, and 555 were not.

The researchers showed that women who spent their pregnancy near farm animals and cats had children with a reduced risk of showing atopic dermatitis in their first two years of life. Two genes were identified in the children that are of vital importance for innate immunity, and the team linked the expression of these genes in the children with a lower chance of being diagnosed with an allergic condition by a doctor.

These findings support the theory that gene-environment interaction with the developing immune system can influence the development of atopic dermatitis.

Courtesy Alpha Galileo

December 2010

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