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Kids Growing Up on Farms Less Likely to Have Asthma
Date:2/23/2011

an that dirt or microbes in general should be considered healthy, or that parents should try to deliberately expose their children to microbes.

"There are enormous numbers of different microorganisms which affect human health by various measures and in opposite directions. There are still dangerous infections, which should be prevented by vaccination or treated with antibiotics," Ege stressed.

One expert who wrote an accompanying editorial in the same journal noted that it was "of critical importance" to figure out how microbe exposure affects the biology of the lungs and immune system.

"This study shows that kids who grow up on farms are less likely to develop asthma, but I don't think there's anything that can be applied to treatment right now," said Dr. James Gern, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

"As we learn more about what these protective exposures are," he said, "it's possible we could come up with ways to prevent asthma in the future."

More information

Read more about the causes of asthma from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

SOURCES: Markus Ege, M.D., M.P.H., researcher, Munich University Children's Hospital, Germany; James E. Gern, professor, pediatrics and medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison; Feb. 24, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine


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