Goodbye, City Life? Farm Kids Have Fewer Allergies, Study Shows

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Health

farm living

Farm living could be ideal for kids with asthma and allergies, a new study shows. Credit: Getty

"Green Acres is the place to be" may become the theme song for parents intent on keeping their kids asthma- and allergy-free.

Turns out farm living, with its haystacks and pigsties (different from the ones found in suburban teen bedrooms) helps fight off allergy-related illnesses, according to a new study that says youngsters who grow up on traditional farms are 30 to 50 percent less likely than their city peers to develop asthma.

"Good germs," found in farm household dust and the barnyard, have the greatest variety of bacteria and fungi, which protects kids from asthma and allergies, the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals.

"The study could help doctors better understand why childhood asthma rates have doubled in the past 30 years," James Gern, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, tells USA Today.

Gern was not involved in the study, but, he tells the newspaper, about one in 10 U.S. children have asthma, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Though certain germs and microbes can make us sick, our bodies depend on others to function, lead author Markus Ege, of Munich University Children's Hospital in Germany, tells USA Today.

Microbial cells make up about 90 percent of the cells in our bodies and help us perform basic tasks, Ege says, such as digesting food.

But, he tells USA Today, scientists don't have a precise reason why these germs fend off illness. One reason, he tells the newspaper, is that it's possible they help "educate" the immune system by teaching the body what to attack and what to ignore.

Without this sort of education, Ege adds, immune cells may react to harmless things, such as pollen, and cause allergies.

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