Jun 13, 2016

A bit of dirt won't hurt! New research into infant health

Many of us grew up being told “a bit of dirt won’t hurt”, and research shows that children who grow up on a farm have fewer incidences of allergies than their urban counterparts.

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Now researchers think they know why, with allergy specialists in Belgium finding that a bacteria detected in farm dust initiates an immune system response that reduces the body’s reaction to allergens and asthmatic triggers, opening the door for potentially new vaccines and treatment options. Researchers confirmed that mice that were exposed to farm dust produced a protein in their lungs called A20. When the researchers deactivated this protein, the mice had an allergic response to the dust mites, and these findings were later confirmed in humans1.

Each year the number of allergy sufferer’s increases by 5%, half of all affected being children. In the last decade, the cases of food allergies have doubled, and the number of hospitalisations caused by severe allergic reactions has increased 7-fold2.

The Centre for Food Allergy and Research in Australia recently released new guidelines on when to introduce potential allergens to a baby’s diet3. Previous advice stated that foods such as peanuts and cow’s milk should be introduced from 1 years of age, however experts are now saying that this should be from 4 months, as any longer could increase the chances of an allergic reaction. The research institute went on to state that breastfeeding infants for longer won’t stop them from developing potentially dangerous food allergies, which was once thought to be the case.

It’s the role of healthcare professionals to ensure that parents are given the best advice for their child, and it’s clear that this is even more crucial when it comes to life threatening allergies. At ROAD Communications we’re proud to have supported healthcare companies in infant and early years nutrition, to educate, support and empower healthcare professionals and parents to take control of their diet and allergies.

For more information on how we could support you, contact Ruth Delacour on 02089 955832.