I got a kick out of this from NPR this morning, To Sniff Out Childhood Allergies, Researchers Head To The Farm. Turns out that researchers have found that kids who go outside, get dirty, play with animals, etc. end up not getting allergies. As I listened I chuckled, especially during this part....
Studies show children who live on farms have low rates of allergies. Dr. Mark Holbreich, an allergist in Indianapolis and a fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, calls it "the farm effect."
Holbreich recently did a study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which found very low rates of allergies among Amish children living on farms in Indiana. He says the reason may be because the children get exposed very early on to dirty environments, and to a variety of dust and germs. Even young kids are often in the barn, working with animals, and drinking raw milk.
"We think there's something about milk," Holbreich says. "That's key, along with exposure to large animals, particularly cows."
Scientists don't know exactly what it is in raw milk, or in the barn, or on the cows, that helps boost the immune system. They're researching that now. But Holbreich cautions against drinking raw milk or serving it to your child. It contains too many dangerous, disease-causing bacteria.
So raw milk seems to help prevent the development of allergies but you shouldn't drink it. Huh? I am thinking that once we start milking our cow I will need to add "don't drink raw milk" to the list of "stuff that 'experts' tell me I shouldn't do but that I do anyway".
Later it talks about a possible link to antibiotic use and then they say that antibiotics are used to mitigate the symptoms. Um, I am not a doctor but maybe that is part of the problem?
We live in a society that over-medicates for every sniffle, slathers sanitizer on every surface and thinks that dirt is likely to kill children on contact. I choose not to participate in that. Kids getting dirty, playing outside, being exposed to the world they live in might not be culturally acceptable but it just might make for healthier children.