Kids on cow farms may have fewer allergies

Kids who grow up on a dairy farm are 21-26% less likely to develop asthma and allergies than kids not raised in a farm environment, according to a European study.

Earlier studies have suggested that the large variety of bacteria and other microbes present on farms may play a role in staving off asthma, but not allergies. And researchers couldn't pinpoint the particular bugs that seemed to be responsible.

To investigate what else might explain the so-called "farm effect," the research team surveyed the parents of nearly 80,000 children who grew up in rural areas of Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The research team found that 11 percent of the farm-raised kids had asthma, compared to about 16 percent of the kids who visited farms but weren't raised on one. Among the children who never spent time on a farm, 18 percent had asthma.The researchers found that having contact with cows and straw and drinking milk that came from the farm was linked with a 21 to 26 percent reduced risk of developing asthma compared to non-exposed kids. Kids who had contact with cows and drank their milk also had a lower chance of getting hay fever.

Read the whole article on Reuter's web site