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Farm Environment, Cats Help Kids Avoid Skin Disease

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The children of mothers who were around farm animals and cats during pregnancy are less likely to develop atopic dermatitis in their first two years of life, new European research shows.

Atopic dermatitis (also called atopic eczema) is a chronic and painful inflammation of the skin that frequently occurs in childhood. The condition affects up to 20 percent of children in industrialized countries and is one of the most common childhood skin diseases.

A research team from the University of Zurich looked at 508 European children from families that lived on farms and 555 children who weren't from farm families in rural areas of Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland.

Along with the first finding, the researchers also identified two genes associated with a child's reduced risk of developing atopic dermatitis in the first two years of life.

The findings support the theory that a gene-environment interaction with a child's developing immune system influences the development of atopic dermatitis, said the researchers.

The study appears in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Previous research has found that allergies are less likely in children who grow up on farms and whose mothers lived on farms during their pregnancy.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about atopic dermatitis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, news release, Dec. 2, 2010

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