Babies in daycare less likely to deveop asthma

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Asthma is the result of an overactive immune system. When a benign substance, such as pollen, is inhaled by an asthmatic, their body reacts defensively, which creates inflammation and wheezing. Researchers have long thought that this over-response is in part due to the fact that we are not exposed to as many germs in modern society as we were in the past. They call this the hygeine-hypothesis.

It's not a perfect theory, but a new study is giving it more weight. Infants who go to daycare between the ages of six and twelve months were 35% less likely to develop asthma by kindergarten. Researchers speculate that being exposed to more germs as babies gives the immune system more work to do, so that it doesn't "get bored" and turn on harmless invaders like allergens.

The hygiene-hypothesis is just one theory about asthma. There's also pollution, smoking, poor diet, obesity -- the list goes on and on. But if your family has a history of allergies and asthma and you've got your baby in daycare, this study shows that the extra exposure to other children might be doing your baby's body good.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.