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Furs may prevent child asthma

Monday September 8th, 2014

Animal furs and skins might help protect babies from developing asthma, researchers claimed today.

The findings come from Germany where 55% of babies were found to have slept on animal skins during the first three months of life.

Researchers found that at the age of six, these babies were 79% less likely than the others to have developed asthma.

This reduced to being 41% less likely than the others at the age of ten.

The findings were being unveiled at the conference of the European Respiratory Society in Munich, Germany.

Some 2,441 children took part in the research. The researchers say that microscopic organisms on the skins and furs may help to "fine tune" childrens' immune systems and prevent allergic reactions.

Researcher Dr Christina Tischer, from Helmholtz Zentrum München, said: “Previous studies have suggested that microbes found in rural settings can protect from asthma. An animal skin might also be a reservoir for various kinds of microbes, following similar mechanisms as has been observed in rural environments.

"Our findings have confirmed that it is crucial to study further the actual microbial environment within the animal fur to confirm these associations.”

A second project reported to the conference yesterday revealed how an "electronic nose" could be used to identify what kind of asthma is affecting a child.

The research in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, found the devices enabled doctors to classify asthma into five sub-groups. Some 106 children took part in the study, providing samples of breath for the "noses".

Researcher Paul Brinkman, from the Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, said: “We know electronic noses have the potential to help us understand more about a range of lung diseases.

"In this study, we have shown that they are an effective method of understanding more about the subtle differences seen between people with asthma. By classifying asthma into different subgroups, we might be able to provide much more tailored treatment for each individual.”

* Flour is the biggest cause of job-related asthma in France, researchers told the conference.

Flour affected 20% of patients while cleaning products were blamed for 15% of cases.

Researchers studied some 330 patients diagnosed with occupational asthma.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Europe | Respiratory

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