mong the young. According to a new study out of Switzerland finds children who are exposed to greater levels of dust are actually less likely to also have asthma or allergies. Researchers had parents of children ages 7 to 12 fill out questionnaires regarding asthma and hay fever. They also took blood samples from the kids to test for measures related to allergic sensitization. Then they gathered dust from the children's bedding to test for levels of endotoxin, a component of the cell wall. All of the kids lived in rural areas in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Results showed an inverse relationship between the development of asthma and allergies and the levels of endotoxin found in the bedding. Blood measures of allergic sensitization were also lower among the children who were exposed to more dust. Exposure to the allergens appeared to protect the children, leading the investigators to suggest even lower levels of exposure are helpful.
The researchers believe their results support the theory that improvements in public health and hygiene over the past century may have increased the predisposition to allergies and asthma among children. They write, these findings suggest that environmental exposure to microbial products, as measured by the endotoxin levels in mattress dust, is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of hay fever, atopic sensitization, atopic asthma, and atopic wheeze in childhood.