Photo: Michael Sarver (Flickr)
A recent study shows that Indiana Amish children are very seldom prone to allergy compared to other children.
Dr. Mark Holbreich authored the study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that was funded by the St. Vincent Foundation and compared the rates of allergies among Amish children in Indiana to Swiss farm children and Swiss children who were not raised on farms.
He says the Swiss farms were used because of there small size and intimacy which is similar to Amish farms. The results found the Swiss children who did not live on farms had a 45-percent allergy rate which compares equally tot he average American child. Swiss farm kids had a rate of 22-percent while the Amish were less than 10-percent.
“We feel that the exposures that these children have should basically direct their immune system away from the development of allergies,” he says. “So, their exposures in the first couple years of life, even when their mothers are pregnant, seems to confer to them life-long protection against allergy.”
Dr. Holbreich says that includes exposure to animals, their bedding, bacteria, and the drinking of unpasteurized milk. He says the focus of the next phase of the study will be on the questions surrounding the difference between the Swiss farm children and the Amish children, considering their similar environments.