Friday, May 11, 2012

Another study finds rural kids less likely to have allergies, asthma; more diverse exposure credited

Earlier this week, we took note of a study that Amish farm children in Indiana and their Swiss farm peers had significantly fewer allergies and less incidence of asthma. Now comes a study from Finland that also suggests rural kids are less likely to develop allergies. (Photo; A biodiverse Finnish forest)

The authors of the Finnish study, reporting their findings in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say declining biodiversity may be a contributing factor to the chronic rise of allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases among urban populations worldwide. They add that it is likely that reduced contact with the natural environment is resulting in a poorer immune system.

Susan Perry of The Minnesota Post reports that the study notes children raised in rural areas are exposed to a broader array of friendly microbes, "which may protect their bodies against allergies, asthma and other inflammatory diseases." The researchers proposed that children interact early with the natural environment -- be it in city parks or in rural settings and forests -- for this could be essential for the development of their immune system.

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