Childhood contact with bacteria along with other germs might help build immunity to numerous microbes down the road, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) claim inside a new study.
Based on Carrie Gann of ABC News, this belief is called the “hygiene hypothesis,” and suggests in contrast towards the common thought that people should make an effort to remain germ free no matter circumstances that bacteria along with other germs may be “a necessary part of a healthy immune system, helping our body’s defenses strengthen and fight future illnesses. When a person’s contact with germs is decreased, problems may arise.”
Inside a pr release detailing their findings, the BWH professionals state that the hygiene hypothesis helps you to explain the increase of allergic reactions and auto-immune diseases in cities around the world, and that doctors have claimed that various sociological and environmental changes, such as the utilization of antibiotics among younger patients, have contributed to this phenomenon.
However, no scientific study had ever discovered a biological basis for this belief. They say their study, that was published Thursday in Science Express, changes that.
“The researchers show that in mice, contact with microbes in early life can help to eliminate the body´s inventory of invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, which help to fight infection but could also turn on the body, causing a range of disorders for example asthma or inflammatory bowel disease,” Nature‘s Helen Thompson reported on March 22.
The BWH researchers are convinced that, after studying the immune systems of both “germ-free mice” and those who have received normal contact with bacteria and other microbes, they discovered that the germ-free mice “had exaggerated inflammation of the lungs and colon resembling asthma and colitis, respectively.”
“Most significantly, the researchers discovered that exposing the germ-free mice to microbes during their first weeks of life, but not when exposed later in adult life, led to a normalized immune system and prevention of diseases,” they added. “Moreover, the protection supplied by early-life contact with microbes was long-lasting, as predicted through the hygiene hypothesis.”
They warn that additional research is necessary to see whether or not the hypothesis is true for humans too, but based on Gann, experts declare that the biological mechanism analyzed within the mice during this study is comparable in people.
Likewise, Erika Von Mutius, head from the Munich University Children’s Hospital Asthma and Allergy Department, told Nature the findings “complement what we see in epidemiology“¦ It supports the idea that the microbiome is very important and also the chronilogical age of exposure is decisive.”