According to researchers, early exposure to allergens such as dust mites could keep babies from developing allergies later in life. A team of doctors is now planning a study involving 120 babies, from 5 to 9 months old, with a family history of allergies. During the experiment, which is aimed at reducing allergies, the babies will be exposed to dust mites.
It’s believed that as many as 1 in 4 people are affected by allergies. Dust mites and other environmental allergens can trigger health effects such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema. The researchers hope that through early exposure, babies’ immune systems will grow stronger, and they will be less likely to develop allergies later in life.
Though little is known about why some children develop allergies while others do not, it is apparent that the condition may run in families. “Although we still do not know why more children are suffering from asthma, eczema, hay fever and food allergy, we do know that children born in families with asthma and allergic disease are at a higher risk of developing them,” said Professor Graham Roberts, a specialist in respiratory and allergy medicine, according toMade For Mums.
Professor Roberts explained the theory behind the allergy study: “We hope that by giving babies a common allergen when their immune systems are working out what is and isn’t harmful will allow us to teach their bodies to accept it and not become susceptible as they grow older.”
Similar studies have found that a lack of early exposure to certain foods could lead to higher rates of food allergies. One study found that children who weren’t fed peanuts as babies were up to 10 times more likely to develop an allergy to peanuts. In Israel, babies are commonly fed peanuts, while in other locations, such as UK, most doctors advise that peanuts should be avoided. According to theJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,fewer children in Tel Aviv are allergic to peanuts when compared to British children.