How bugs and virus help children develop immunity. – By Amanda Schaffer – Slate Magazine

Here is an article from Slate about how children’s immune system may benefit from exposures to microbes.

“evidence suggests that some gastrointestinal bugs and viruses, which might or might not cause illness, may protect later against allergy, asthma, and inflammation. Baby respiratory infections, on the other hand, probably don’t shield kids in the same way. So what’s a tiny baby to do? Chew toys off the floor, play in the mud, go to the petting zoo. But stay away from the flu.

The idea that germs protect against allergies started to gain traction around 20 years ago. A researcher named David Strachan found that children with more siblings, particularly older brothers, were less likely to develop hay fever. Strachan’s work (like most of the research that followed) didn’t prove a causal relationship. Nor did it address how, exactly, kids might school one another’s immune systems. But it spurred the theory that all manner of germiness, from dirty hands to runny noses, might help kids in the long run. Researchers also linked growing up on a farm to lower risk of allergy. Ditto for attending day care early on. (Though with caveats. In one study, for instance, day care only seems to protect allergy-prone kids if they attend before they’re 3 months old.) But what is it about farms or day care that might help train the budding immune system—the scat, the snot, or something else?”

via How bugs and virus help children develop immunity. – By Amanda Schaffer – Slate Magazine.

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