Thursday, December 3, 2009

More evidence for hygiene hypothesis

The hygiene hypothesis proposes that exposure to infectious agents as a child in a sense vaccinates kids against allergies. The reverse statement is that adult allergies can be caused by being too clean as a kid.

In a recent study of 939 kids and their families, higher exposure to other kids as toddlers (but not as infants, which they define as 0-16 months) was associated with lower incidence of asthma at age 15. It was dose-related up to 9 kids; more kids = less asthma. After 9 kids, the effect reduced, suggesting a threshold.

So if asthma is a particular concern in your family history, you might be best off with small family child care, or a smallish large-family home, with a preferred capacity of 10 kids.

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