Does Early Exposure Reduce a Newborn's Risk of Allergies?

Photo of newborns exposed early reduce allergies LocateADocOf course we all want to protect our babies from anything that might do them harm, down to the inconvenience and irritation of allergies. But what if one of the ways to reduce the risk of allergies was to expose your newborn to the allergens that cause them? A recent study conducted by pediatrician researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center suggests that this may be the case.

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, examined the effect of early exposure to household allergens and bacteria on newborns. It tracked the health of almost 500 children in the first three years of their life, analyzing the levels of commonly found allergens such as pet dander and cockroach droppings found in a household.

Findings from the study may surprise advocates of hyper-vigilant antibacterial parenting—babies who were exposed to higher levels of allergens and bacteria in their first year were less likely to display wheezing or other indicators of allergies and asthma by the age of 3. Infants exposed later were more likely to develop these signs.

Does this mean you should let dirt and dander build up in your home to protect your newborn from asthma? Not so fast. This study can’t prove that eradicating these allergens will cause asthma and allergies, or that increasing them will do the opposite, only that early exposure may shape later immune reactions. You should consult your pediatrician to keep up with healthy allergy practices and responses.

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