Babies who are exposed to bacteria within the first year of their life will be less likely to develop asthma and allergies later on, a new study finds. The new study finds that babies exposed to certain types of bacteria may be less likely to get asthma or allergies later in life.

According to a new study done by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, babies will be far less likely to asthma and allergies later in life if they are exposed to germs early on. The hypothesis behind the study is that early exposure to bacteria will train a person’s immune system to attack bad bugs while ignoring harmless things, like pollen or pet dander.

However, babies must be exposed to specific types of bacteria for them to reap the benefits later in life. The study claims that infants exposed to bacteria in the Bacteriodes and Firmicutes groups were less likely to develop asthma and allergies. If a baby was exposed to bacteria in both groups, then they did even better.

The study looked at young inner-city children who grew up exposed to cockroaches, rats, and other disease ridden things. Based on that, it might be assumed that the children would be more immune to contracting asthma or allergies. But, the kids are actually getting sicker.

“We’ve talked for a number of years about how the inner city really does contradict the hygiene hypothesis,” says Dr. Robert Wood, one of the authors of the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. “There’s such a high rate of allergies and asthma in the inner city. The inner city must be a very dirty area where kids must be protected.”

As a result, cities have been attempting to clean up dirty areas to protect their children’s health. The reason these inner-city children are getting sicker is because they are being exposed to the wrong kinds of bacteria, meaning not enough bacteria in the Bacteriodes and Firmicutes groups. As a result, their resistance to disease is staying basically the same, even though the children are getting sick.

Although researches have been observing kids in Baltimore, Boston, New York and St. Louis for eight years, they don’t recommend purposefully introducing babies to germs yet. Before that happens, they need to perform clinical trials on both animals and humans. They say a lot more work needs to be done before any action can be taken.

“We still believe that in kids with asthma that these allergen exposures are really unhealthy,” Wood added. “But it would appear that if we cleaned things up as a preventative measure it would backfire terribly.”

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