Send them out to the barn

Compound found in animals but not humans 
sparks immunity against asthma

It’s already known that farm kids are less prone to asthma, but a new study by immunologists from the University of Zurich has identified sialic acid found in farm animals as the reason.

A university release said this substance is widespread in vertebrates and therefore in many farm animals, but missing in the human organism.

It said an environment that is not highly hygienic has a positive effect on the development of the immune system, as it learns not to react to harmless materials, as is the case with allergies.

Microbes that occur in higher amounts and greater diversity on farms protect farm children from allergies and asthma.

The release said about 30 per cent of children have allergies, with the exception of farm children among whom the disease is increasing less dramatically than in the case of their friends who live in the same village, but not on a farm.

“Early childhood contact with animals and the consumption of food of animal origin seem to regulate the inflammatory reactions of the immune system,” Remo Frei of the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research said in the release.

A study of more than 1,000 children tested for the presence of the Neu5Gc antibody related to asthma occurrence in European children. “Farm children have many more antibodies against Neu5Gc in their blood — and children with more antibodies suffered considerably less from asthma,” Frei said.

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