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Immune system

Early Exposure To Bacteria Helps Create Stronger Immune Systems

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 by: Barbara L. Minton
Tags: immune system, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Recent studies have shown that children growing up with pets, living on farms, or in any way exposed to certain bacteria at young ages show stronger immune systems and less likelihood of developing severe allergies.

Results from a nationally conducted survey by the National Institute of Health (NIH) from 1988 to 1994 indicate that more than 50 percent of Americans aged six to fifty-nine are sensitive to at least one allergen. These rates range from two to five times higher than rates found in a similar survey completed in 1980.

The apparent reason for these increased rates is today's more sterile lifestyle. The body's immune system is formed in reaction to foreign, generally harmless substances such as animal dander, pollen, mold, and particular foods. The more our lifestyle protects us from encounters with such substances, the greater the chance for a reaction when they are finally encountered.

Another study, from the 2002 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that exposure to farm animals or pets at an early age could help children avoid developing allergies. This study found that children raised without pets are more likely to develop allergy related diseases than were children frequently exposed to animals during their first years of life.

This study also found that in the past when families tended to be larger, children had fewer allergies. Today's children, raised in smaller families, have fewer siblings and are therefore exposed to fewer germs.

Studies conducted with rats have shown that rats and mice living in sewers and on farms have stronger immune systems than lab rats that live in a clean environment.

Food allergies are also on the rise, occurring in up to 8 percent of children under four years of age, and 4 percent of adults. Food allergies can have serious consequences including anaphylactic shock and death. The largest rise in allergies involves peanuts. Peanut allergies were virtually unknown several years ago when peanuts were a popular snack at circuses and carnivals.

For the past several years, theories have been purposed regarding the effects of our sanitized world on our immune systems. However, the development of more and more products for use in the cleaning of our environments has continued. We have been taught by advertisers that the goal of every housekeeper should be a house that is completely germ free and sterile. We have bought into the idea that no matter how many toxic ingredients are contained in these products, they should be used in our homes and workplaces to keep us healthy. Now it appears that the most toxic effect of these products may be to our immune systems.

About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

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