Could Bacteria Protect Against Asthma?

July 17, 2008 11:31 AM
by Lindsey Chapman
A new study suggests that bacteria responsible for causing ulcers and stomach cancer could actually protect kids from developing asthma.

30-Second Summary

U.S. researchers have found that kids infected with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria may experience a protection against asthma that uninfected kids don’t have.

Kids and teens ages 3 to 19 years old who carried H. pylori were 25 percent less likely to have asthma than their counterparts; in the 3 to 13 age group, kids with H. pylori were 59 percent less likely to have asthma.

In June 2008, the World Allergy Organization (WAO) reported that allergy and asthma rates have gone up considerably worldwide. Asthma cases have increased 50 percent each decade for the last 40 years.

Climate change, industrialization around the world and various new natural and synthetic substances in the environment have all contributed to higher allergy and asthma rates in recent history, and they’re expected to be contributing factors in the future.

Both the WAO report and the H. pylori study indicate that strict hygiene standards have played a role in the incidence of asthma.

Researchers wonder whether we keep our environments too clean, thereby not giving our immune systems enough to do and spurring over-reactions to triggers like dust instead.

According to the WAO report, 300 million people worldwide have asthma, and half live in developing countries where there is no access to needed medications.

It’s estimated that the economic cost of allergic rhinitis (an inflammation of the nasal passages) and asthma exceeds tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Headline Link: 'Ulcer Bacteria may Protect from Asthma'

Background: Treating asthma and allergies

Related: Asthma inhalers, hyper-cleanliness


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