Surprising Anti-Allergy Factors
Having siblings share a bedroom may be one of the best ways to allergy-proof your little ones
Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as "hay fever" and "seasonal allergies," has been steadily increasing around the world, putting a damper on people's quality of life due to symptoms and treatment cost. So, understanding the causes of rhinitis is an important research goal.
Benefits of pets, siblings, and farms
To look at this question, researchers questioned 8,486 adults, aged 20 to 40, from 13 countries, about their childhoods and their current respiratory health. After nine years, the study participants completed these questionnaires again and also were asked whether and when they developed nasal allergies or hay fever.
After taking into account other things that may affect allergies, including family history of allergies and whether their parents smoked, the researchers identified several childhood factors linked with later developing allergies:
The balance between clean and not-so-clean
Some of these results may be surprising because they suggest that childhood exposure to more "dirt and germs" can keep allergies at bay. On the other hand, other studies suggest that for children growing up in urban environments, being exposed to urban pests such as cockroaches may increase allergy and asthma risk. Read on for tips on finding the right "balance of clean" to keep your family healthy.
(J Allergy Clin Immunol; article in press; accessed August 28, 2011)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.