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Early exposure to indoor fungus molecules may protect infants against future allergies

fungal glucans and endotoxins (natural compounds secreted from disease-causing agents like bacteria) in 574 infants, enrolled in the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), who were identified as being at greater risk for future allergies because at least one parent had known allergies.

The CCAAPS, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is a five-year study at UC examining the effects of environmental particulates on childhood respiratory health and allergy development.

UC researchers collected dust samples from each infant’s primary activity room and analyzed them for indoor allergens, fungal glucans and bacterial endotoxins. They also gathered information about the home, including the presence of any visible mold and water damage. Environmental and food allergy development was monitored through annual skin prick tests.

Scientists say early-life exposure to common microbial components—like bacterial endotoxins and fungal glucans—can stimulate the body’s immune system to produce infection- and allergy-fighting substances. Because of this, Iossifova says, people should avoid overusing antibacterial sprays and soaps to clean their bodies and homes.

"Certain microbes can have helpful affects in the body," she explains, "but antibacterial disinfectants can’t discriminate between helpful and harmful microbes—they destroy them all.

"This eliminates the natural competition among bacteria and fungi, so the surviving microbes are often the infectious ones that can develop resistance to drugs designed to eliminate them."

Iossifova says further research is needed to determine how early microbial exposures affect the development of certain allergic conditions—including asthma, dermatitis and hay fever—later in life.
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Source:University of Cincinnati


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