Study: Exposing infants to allergens may reduce asthma risk

New research shows that children who are exposed to higher levels of indoor allergens during infancy have a lower risk of developing asthma by the age of 7.

The research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, suggests that exposure to certain allergens early in life, before asthma develops, may have a preventive effect.

“We are learning more and more about how the early-life environment can influence the development of certain health conditions,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a news release. “If we can develop strategies to prevent asthma before it develops, we will help alleviate the burden this disease places on millions of people, as well as on their families and communities.”

More than 8 percent of kids in the U.S. have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers followed 442 children from birth to age 7. Of those, 29 percent (130 kids) had asthma.

Children from homes with higher concentrations of cockroach, mouse and cat allergens in dust samples (collected at 3 months, 2 years and 3 years of age) were linked to a lower risk of asthma by age 7, according to the researchers.

The researchers observed a similar association for dog allergen, but it wasn’t statistically significant.

Additional analysis indicated exposure to the four allergens – cockroach, mouse, cat and dog – at 3 months old was associated with a lower risk of asthma, according to researchers.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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