Here we go again. New research showing how immune balance takes root and impacts lifelong health. We’ve got a lot of material on this blog about how exposure to dust, germs, allergens, etc. early in childhood can help “train” one’s immune system to respond proportionally and appropriately to pathogens that enter the body throughout the remainder of one’s life. In other words, getting a little dirty and messy early in life can be beneficial in warding off illnesses later in life, while living in an antibacterial environment as a baby and toddler can actually “misinform” and distort the body’s immune development so that immune response is overly aggressive or overly passive when pathogens are detected. Thus come severe allergies, endless ear infections, asthma, multiple colds and flu every winter, and even chronic pain. It’s called the hygiene hypothesis. I call it the prophylaxis paradox. We try to shield our babies against every possible germ, and end up actually making things worse for them in the long run.
Now comes research showing that pregnant farm wives may actually be helping their unborn babies by passing on to the fetus low level bacteria, dust and other microbes that women are exposed to on the farm. Regulatory T-cells, an important component of immune defense, are higher in number and more effective in function among infants whose mothers lived on the farm during pregnancy.
According to the study, “Two factors seem to be particularly important for this effect. First, an early influence on the fetus’ immune system during pregnancy seems to have a strong effect on reducing later allergy development. Second, microbial exposure has been identified as a crucial “entity of allergy-protective exposure.” The microbial exposure refers to several germs found in barns and stables including on livestock, as well as milk straight from the cow.”
I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I lived near a pasture as a child. Not good enough, apparently, as I had allergies early on. Up until my immune balance supplementation started 14 months ago, that is. Now, I’ll take on any farm boy who want to match up his corn-huskin’ leukocytes against my city-boy neutrophils any day.