Early exposure could prevent allergies: study

Bethesda, MD – Early exposure to certain allergens and bacteria may protect children from wheezing and developing allergies as toddlers, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers tracked 560 children from birth to age 3 in four cities: Baltimore, Boston, New York and St. Louis. Each of the children had at least one parent with asthma or allergies, which placed the children at high risk for developing similar problems.

In the study, researchers measured children’s wheezing episodes and levels of exposure to common city allergens, including cats, cockroaches, dogs, dust mites and mice. Children who were exposed to cat, cockroach and mouse allergens during their first year of life proved to have a lower risk of recurrent wheezing by age 3, researchers said.

Meanwhile, researchers also studied children’s exposure levels to bacterial diversity from birth to age 1. Those who encountered high levels of allergens and a greater variety of bacteria in their first year were less likely to experience wheezing or sensitivity to allergens at age 3, researchers said.

The study was published June 4 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.