Early Life Esposure to Dust May Protect Against Asthma Early Life Esposure to Dust May Protect Against Asthma
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Exposing children early in life to dust and other microbial agents could protect them from developing asthma, according to new research in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI).

Jeroen Dowes, PhD, Utrecht University , the Netherlands, and Massey University, Wellington , New Zealand, and colleagues’ study, “Does early indoor microbial exposure reduce the risk of asthma? The Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy birth cohort study” can be found online at www.jacionline.org. The JACI is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Researchers initially assessed childrens’ exposure to microbials at three months of age and then followed the children, all of whom have atopic mothers and live in the Netherlands, to age four. Microbials are small, inhalable particles that are, or have been living agents.

Through those four years, they monitored the development of atopic sensitization (which can lead to allergies), doctor-diagnosed asthma and wheeze in the children. In addition, the researchers measured dust on living room floors and infants’ mattresses at three months of age, serum IgE levels for common allergens at one and four years of age and collected yearly information related to whether or not the children had developed asthma. A random group of participants was also given mite-impermeable mattress and pillow covers; the other group was given a placebo of cotton mattress and pillow covers.

While microbial levels in mattresses were low and not associated with allergy, doctor-diagnosed asthma or wheeze, the study showed levels of dust and other microbials on the floor correlated to a lower level of asthma development by age four. The highest exposure group had a lower level of asthma and wheeze, even when researchers made adjustments for the presence of animals in the home, antibiotic use, dampness, etc.

The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The AAAAI serves as an advocate to the public by providing educational information through its Web site at www.aaaai.org.