Research has revealed the benefits of being brought up on a farm in protecting against the development of respiratory allergies can last into adulthood, with the substances in barnyard dust and unprocessed milk thought to be involved in allergy protection.
The research, conducted in Germany and published in the June issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, studied more than 1,300 participants aged 6-11 years at baseline and 20-25 years at follow-up. Results showed the allergy-protective effects associated with living on a farm continued into early adulthood, even if the children had moved elsewhere after the age of six.
Continuing exposure over puberty did not appear to add to the effect, possibly confirming that the window of opportunity for a protective effect might be found in childhood.
An international consortium of researchers is now said to be working on potential treatments from farm dust and unprocessed milk that may combat the reported increasing prevalence of food allergies, with a target to deliver a therapeutic product within the next five years.
Additional reporting: The Guardian