February 27, 2011
I know transitioning from sexual harmony (yesterday’s article) to barnyard animals may seem a little weird; but sex leads to having children and there is an alarming increase in the rate of children with asthma in the United States. As I have stated in previous articles, asthma, in both children and adults, is a major cause of illness, lost days in school and work, hospitalizations and leads to 10 deaths a day in our country.
There have been many theories as to why the incidence of asthma is growing at such an alarming rate. One of my favorites is that our homes are too clean! Yes, our homes have air purifiers, water purifiers, dust covers and are cleaned with state of the art “HEPA” technology vacuums. The theory states that our infant’s immune system should be exposed to a host of microbes during the early years of life. The immune system is then forced to split into two components. One component learns to produce killer cells to defend against those microbes. The other component learns to defend against allergens. Since there are relatively few microbes in our super clean homes, the infant’s immune system concentrates solely on allergens. This theory has come into favor and gone out of favor several times.
In an article in Medpage Today, http://www.medpagetoday.com/AllergyImmunology/Asthma/25030, the author reports on two studies that show a reduced incidence in asthma among children who grow up on a farm. While the evidence is not definitive, it lends credence to my favorite theory.
So, as young couples contemplating having children or as parents and grandparents, I recommend that you start farming. Seriously, I don’t expect you to move to a farm but you might consider getting a cat or a dog. They bring a unique form of love into a household and some microbes, as well. There are lots of studies showing the benefits of having a pet. Many hospitals have visiting pet programs to aid in the recovery of their sickest patients. Remember, too clean a home may be a problem.
As a personal aside, my grandson has lived on a farm all of his life. He has asthma. He comes from a gene pool full of asthma. There certainly are many other factors leading to the development of asthma. If you or a family member has asthma, see your doctor on a regular basis. Develop an asthma action plan. Take the Asthma Control Test, http://www.asthmacontrol.com/, to see if you are in control of your asthma. Learn all you can about asthma. The life you save may be your own.