Posted by: Ticktock | November 3, 2008

New Allergy & Asthma Science

ALLERGIES – I voiced my skepticism toward probiotics for babies with colic, only to be corrected by my loyal readers that probiotics are supported by some legitimate doctors as an effective anti-colic tool.  Now, close on the heels of that exchange, there comes some probiotics debunking from “Down Under”, this time in regards to allergies.  A new study by the University of Western Australia indicated that babies given “good” bacteria in the first 6 months of life did not have an advantage against allergies.  The only thing that seemed surprising to me about this study was that people actually thought that good bacteria would cure children of allergies in the first place.  That’s one myth nipped in the bid, I guess.

You know what does seem to make allergies worse?  Global warming!  Hotter global temperatures mean more plants and more plants mean more allergies like ragweed.  Incidentally, ragweed laid waste to my trachea last month; my nose is grateful for the chilly weather.

ASTHMA–   Daycare may reduce the incidence of asthma according to one study that followed 815 kids until they were five.  Bad news for my kids!  Judging by J’s raspy breathing, I’d say maybe this study has merit.  However, I think that there may be other factors, like the simple fact that poor kids (who live next to factories that pollute) are less likely to afford daycare.

According to the latest studies, the risk of asthma seems to increase when babies come down with the common cold or when babies are exposed to tylenol (acetaminophen).  Considering that colds and tylenol go together, I’m wondering if the two scientists who came up with those studies should get together and do some brainstorming.

On the other hand, if you want to increase your odds of having an asthma-free child, you might want to consider having your pregnancy on a farm.  This New Zealand study goes so far as to suggest that being around animal bacteria and raw milk may be the reason for the results, and that the benefits to the child may occur before he or she is born.  Well, I guess that brings us full circle to suggest that certain bacteria may help after all… or not.  Who knows?  I do know one thing, the raw milk theory needs to come with a warning – don’t try this at home!

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Responses

  1. The Australian study doesn’t nip anything in the bud, and is actually fairly usless, as they only tested Lactobacillus Acidopholus. The article you link to even quotes the researchers saying “other strains have shown more promise”. There are plenty of papers pointing towards some potential for probiotics. Eg:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=16313688&query_hl=3&itool=pubmed_docsum
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15727582&query_hl=3&itool=pubmed_docsum
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16670516?dopt=Abstract

    Mind you I’m not a real fan of the whole give-probiotics-to-your-kids craze. To me common sense and the increasing number of studies like your NZ farm study (there was a similar study in the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology I remember reading about) seem to point towards just being a bit less hung up and a bit more willing to let your kids get dirty. Hell there weren’t even any probiotics 50 years ago and we’ve certainly seen marked increase in rates since then.

  2. […] mind when better evidence comes along. Why can’t it be more stubborn and dogmatic? I had previously written that day care seemed to protect against asthma, but a new study by scientists at Erasmus University […]


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