If you've had the chance to read our latest seasonal Baby-n-Beads newsletter, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the article about allergies. Please leave your comments at the end of this post...
A feature story in the March 19, 2006 issue of USA TODAY reported that exposure to pets, peanuts, and intestinal worms might actually be good for children, because they program their developing immune system to know the difference between real threats and common exposures.
The article begins by noting that this new thinking is opposite of the previous conventional wisdom that said it was best to protect children from these types of exposures. They now state just the opposite. Dr. Andy Saxton of the University of California-Los Angeles, states, "What we learned is that it may, in fact, be important to be exposed early on to a sufficient quantity of allergy-causing substances to train the immune system that they are not a threat."
In the article, Dr. Joel Weinstock of Tufts New England Medical Center added: "When you're born, Day Zero, your immune system is like a new computer. It's not programmed. You have to add software. Between the ages of zero and 12, you're learning to read, you're learning to write, and your immune system is learning to react to things. Part of that is learning to limit reactivity."
The article supports the hypothesis that growing up in cities and suburbs, away from fields and farm animals, leaves people more susceptible to many immune disorders such as allergies and asthma. To strengthen his point, Dr. Weinstock notes the difference between developed nations with urban communities and undeveloped countries. "Hay fever is the most common allergy in the developed world," he says. "Yet, there are some countries in the world where doctors don't know what hay fever is."
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? We'd like to hear your point of view.