Swiss researchers have revealed that women who spend their pregnancy in the proximity of farm animals and cats have children with a reduced risk of developing atopic dermatitis in their first two years of life.
Atopic dermatitis, also known as atopic eczema, is a chronic and
extremely painful inflammation of the skin that frequently occurs in
early childhood, generally already in infancy.
Earlier research has indicated that allergies were less common in
children who grew up on farms and whose mothers lived on farms during
Exposure to farm animals and bacteria frequently found in farms as well
as drinking milk from the dairy offered the immune system protection.
However, proof of this protective effect in connection with atopic
dermatitis had remained elusive.
Now, Roger Lauener, Caroline Roduit and their colleagues from the
University of Zurich have analyzed how prenatal environmental factors
and genetic mechanisms influence the development of atopic dermatitis
during the first two years of life.
They examined over 1,000 children in rural areas of five European
countries - Austria, Finland, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Of the 1,063 children, 508 were from families that lived on farms while 555 were not farm children.
The researchers identified two genes in these children that are of vital
importance for innate immunity and were able to link the expression of
these genes to a lower likelihood of a doctor diagnosis of an allergic
The findings of the study are not only significant in the face of the
frequency of the disease and the suffering it causes but also support
the theory that gene-environment interaction with the developing immune
system influences the development of atopic dermatitis in young
The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. (ANI)