New York: Children infected with hookworm or other intestinal parasites may be less likely than uninfected children to have allergies, a new research review finds.
The study, published in the journal Allergy, gives some support to the idea that our increasingly germ-free surroundings may be contributing to a worldwide increase in allergies and asthma in recent decades,a theory known as "the hygiene hypothesis."
It's thought that exposure to viruses and other pathogens early in life may help nudge the immune system toward a normal infection-fighting mode, and away from a tendency to overreact to benign substances, which is the basis of allergies.
Studies so far, however, have come to conflicting conclusions about the hygiene hypothesis. Some, for example, have linked early attendance at daycare, where kids swap germs freely, to a lower risk of developing allergies and asthma, which would seem to support the hygiene theory. But others have found no such protective effect....more
06:46 PM, Dec 08, 2010