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Newborns exposed to allergens less likely to develop allergies

Newborns exposed to bacteria and allergens less likely to develop allergies, study finds

Children who were exposed to rodent and pet dander along with other household allergens within their first year of life are less likely to suffer from allergies or asthma than those exposed after their first birthday, a new study found.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center tracked the health of 467 newborns in Baltimore, Boston, New York, and St. Louis over three years. The researchers measured allergen levels in the homes of the newborns and tested them for wheezing and allergies. They also analyzed the bacteria level in dust in the homes of 104 of the infants.

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Children who were exposed to mouse and cat dander and cockroach droppings in their home within their first year were less likely to experience wheezing by age 3 compared with those who did not encounter all three of these substances by age 1, the study found. The more allergens and bacteria the infants were exposed to in the home, the less likely they were to develop asthma or environmental allergies as a toddler.

The findings suggest that exposure to some allergens in the first few months of life may shape a child’s development of an immune response, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Children who were exposed to rodent and pet dander, along with other household allergens within their first year of life are less likely to suffer from allergies or asthma than those exposed after their first birthday

CAUTIONS: The study cannot prove that increasing the number of allergens in the home can prevent asthma and allergies, or that an allergen-free home causes allergies.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of
Allergy and Clinical Immunology, June 6

Encouraging text messages may help some smokers quit

A nationwide text messaging campaign that uses encouraging reminders may double the chance that smokers will quit, according to a new study.

Researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University randomly assigned 503 smokers recruited online who were contemplating quitting to either participate in the national Text2Quit interactive text messaging program or receive self-help reading material. The Text2Quit program, which is currently available to the public, offers smokers quitting advice and distraction methods like games to help users fight off their cravings.

Six months later, both groups of participants were surveyed about how successful they were in quitting. The researchers also collected a saliva sample from participants. More than 11 percent of smokers who participated in the program remained smoke-free after six months, compared with 5 percent who only received self-help reading material, the study found.

The findings suggest that interactive mobile programs may help some people who are already motivated to stop smoking actually quit, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: A nationwide text messaging campaign that uses encouraging reminders may double the chance that smokers will quit, according to a new study.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on self-reports from participants so the findings may not be entirely accurate. The short-term study does not look at whether the participants remained smoke-free for longer than six months.

WHERE TO FIND IT: American Journal of Preventive Medicine,
June 6

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