preventing allergies and asthma in children

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)

Our immune system is essentially a system of specialized cells and organs that protects us from outside threats such as viruses, bacteria and other biological outsiders.

It is during the first decade of life that our immune system learns which biological intrusions it needs to protect us against.

What this means is, if children do not get exposed to many of the harmless biological threats in the environment during the first decade of life, if they do not challenge the immune system early, then they may pay the price with allergies and asthma throughout the rest of their lives.

In other words, parents need to look into the dangers of overprotecting their children. Some of this overprotection has been institutionalized in the form of widespread use of antibiotics, vaccinations against various diseases, cleaner food and water, and better living conditions.

Some parents may make this situation worse by keeping their children at home in a sterilized environment: never taking their children to the park, never letting them play in a sandbox, never letting them roll around in the grass, never letting them have a pet at home, and keeping them away from other kids who may be sick.

By underexposing our children to bacteria, certain viruses, and other minor threats in the environment, their immune systems will not develop the appropriate responses and they may end up with allergies and other problems of an inexperienced immune system.

Studies show that if children grow up with a pet, they are less likely to get asthma later on. The same applies to running and rolling around in the grass at the park when the child is three years old. The same also applies to placing the children in a day care center. These are the children who tend to have fewer allergies later on. A little exposure is a good thing.

It is a fact that children, who grow up on farms and are exposed to dirt, pollen, worms and other organisms, are less likely to develop allergies, asthma, or autoimmune diseases.

Teenagers, who have not been properly exposed to their environment as children, will develop immune systems which are unable to recognize as harmless the pollen, dust and mold spores around them every day.