New Study Supports Hygiene Hypothesis


I received this from a friend who checked with JHU and was told that the researchers didn’t have information on parental practices and the use of antibacterial products before/after allergy diagnosis.  So now we have seen studies that urban area kids have more allergies, and now the anti-bacterial products are being linked. I am not sure how I feel about these studies. We live in a rural town, I don’t think we use an excess of antibacterial products, nor do my boys use mouthwashes. Both have multiple allergies. I hope we see a study comparing multi-generational DNA, to see if there are changes between say my grandparents DNA and my sons. I really think the abundant use of toxins in our environments for the past 100 years is to blame.  We use pesticides, on our food, they are in our soil, our water, the air we breathe [more pollution in cities]; the GMO crops, [now linked to the widespread decline in the Bee population!], ~all of these MUST have an effect on us too! It is my thought that the combination of the use of these toxins over generations  has damaged something in our DNA and these changes are appearing now as the epidemic of auto-immune diseases and cancers we are seeing in the new “Generation Rx” ~ But that’s just my own theory!~ Here is the John Hopkins study:

From John Hopkins:
“Exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more prone to a wide range of food and environmental allergies, according to new research from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Results of the NIH-funded study are published online ahead of print
June 18 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Using existing data from a national health survey of 860 children
ages 6 to 18, Johns Hopkins researchers examined the relationship
between a child’s urinary levels of antibacterials and preservatives
found in many personal-hygiene products and the presence of IgE
antibodies in the child’s blood. IgE antibodies are immune chemicals that rise in response to an allergen and are markedly elevated in people with allergies.

“We saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens,” said lead investigator Jessica Savage, M.D., M.H.S., an allergy and immunology fellow at Hopkins.

The researchers caution that the findings do not demonstrate that
antibacterials and preservatives themselves cause the allergies, but
instead suggest that these agents play a role in immune system development.

The investigators say their findings are also consistent with the
so-called hygiene hypothesis, which has recently gained traction as
one possible explanation behind the growing rates of food and
environmental allergies in the developed world. The hypothesis
suggests that early childhood exposure to common pathogens is
essential in building healthy immune responses. Lack of such
exposure, according to the theory, can lead to an overactive immune system that misfires against harmless substances such as food proteins, pollen or pet dander.

“The link between allergy risk and antimicrobial exposure suggests
that these agents may disrupt the delicate balance between beneficial and bad bacteria in the body and lead to immune system dysregulation, which in turn raises the risk of allergies,” Savage added.

In the study, those with the highest urine levels of triclosan – an
antibacterial agent used in soaps, mouthwash and toothpaste – had the highest levels of food IgE antibodies, and therefore the highest
allergy risk, compared with children with the lowest triclosan
levels. Children with the highest urinary levels of parabens –
preservatives with antimicrobial properties used in cosmetics, food
and medications – were more likely to have detectable levels of IgE
antibodies to environmental allergens like pollen and pet dander,
compared with those with low paraben levels.

The team initially zeroed in on seven ingredients previously shown to disrupt endocrine function in lab and animal studies. These compounds were bisphenol A – found in plastics – and triclosan, benzophenone-3 and propyl, methyl, butyl and ethyl parabens, found in personal-hygiene products and some foods and medications. Interestingly, triclosan and propyl and butyl parabens, all of which have antimicrobial properties, were the only ones associated with increased allergy risk in the current study, the researchers noted.

“This finding highlights the antimicrobial properties of these
agents as a probable driving force behind their effect on the immune system,” said senior investigator Corinne Keet, M.D., M.S., an allergist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Children with the highest urine levels of triclosan had nearly twice
the risk of environmental allergies as children with the lowest
urinary concentrations. Those with highest levels of propyl paraben
in the urine had twice the risk of an environmental allergy. Food
allergy risk was more than twice as pronounced in children with the
highest levels of urinary triclosan as in children with the lowest
triclosan levels. High paraben levels in the urine were not linked to
food allergy risk.

To clarify the link between antimicrobial agents and allergy
development, the researchers are planning a long-term study in babies exposed to antibacterial ingredients at birth, following them
throughout childhood.

he research was funded by the National Institutes of Health training
grant number T32AI007056-31.

Co-investigators on the research were Elizabeth Matsui, M.D., M.H.S.,
and Robert Wood, M.D., both of Hopkins.

Founded in 1912 as the children’s hospital at Johns Hopkins, the
Johns Hopkins Children’s Center offers one of the most comprehensive
pediatric medical programs in the country, treating more than 90,000
children each year. Hopkins Children’s is consistently ranked among
the top children’s hospitals in the nation. Hopkins Children’s is
Maryland’s largest children’s hospital and the only state-designated
Trauma Service and Burn Unit for pediatric patients. It has
recognized Centers of Excellence in dozens of pediatric
subspecialties, including allergy, cardiology, cystic fibrosis,
gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology,
pulmonary, and transplant. For more information, please visit “

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