A study published in the December issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that a pregnant woman’s exposure to microbes may protect her child from developing allergies later in life.
The study found that, when exposed to environmental bacteria, pregnant mice developed an inflammatory response that rendered their offspring resistant to allergies.
As a result, the scientists from Phillips University theorize that pregnant women who find themselves exposed to common environmental bacteria may be able to reduce their child’s need for traditional anti-allergy medication and avoid the accompanying side effects.
The researchers based their work on the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that the progressive rise of allergies over the past few decades is due to an increased tendency to keep kids too clean.
The study may also help explain why children of farming mothers are less susceptible to allergies regardless of their own exposure.
It is still unclear how the resistance is developed in the body and whether the protection applies to a wide range of allergens, including those found in food.