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Dirt prevents allergy
Date:11/2/2011

Oversensitivity diseases, or allergies, now affect 25 per cent of the population of Denmark. The figure has been on the increase in recent decades and now researchers at the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC), University of Copenhagen, are at last able to partly explain the reasons.

"In our study of over 400 children we observed a direct link between the number of different bacteria in their rectums and the risk of development of allergic disease later in life," says Professor Hans Bisgaard, consultant at Gentofte Hospital, head of the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood, and professor of children's diseases at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen.

"Reduced diversity of the intestinal microbiota during infancy was associated with increased risk of allergic disease at school age, he continues. But if there was considerable diversity, the risk was reduced, and the greater the variation, the lower the risk.

"So it makes a difference if the baby is born vaginally, encountering the first bacteria from its mother's rectum, or by caesarean section, which exposes the new-born baby to a completely different, reduced variety of bacteria. This may be why far more children born by caesarean section develop allergies."

In the womb and during the first six months of life, the mother's immune defences protect the infant. Bacteria flora in infants are therefore probably affected by any antibiotics the mother has taken and any artificial substances she has been exposed to.

"I must emphasise that there is not one single allergy bacteria," Professor Bisgaard points out.

"We have studied staphylococci and coli bacteria thoroughly, and there is no relation. What matters is to encounter a large number of different bacteria early in life when the immune system is developing and 'learning'. The window during which the infant is immunologically immature and can
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Contact: Hans Bisgaard
bisgaard@copsac.dk
01-145-397-77363
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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