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Sleeping on animal fur can reduce children's chances of getting asthma

Meanwhile, another study found that a father smoking before conception could increase asthma risk.

Image: Sleeping on fur via Normal relatinoships are dynamic and unpredicatable, human beings are fickle

EXPOSURE TO ANIMAL skin and fur at a young age can reduce the risk of developing asthma in towns and cities, according to a new scientific study.

The research found the risk of developing the condition in later childhood is reduced if children are exposed to the “microbial environment in animal skin and fur” in the first three months of life.

Presenting to the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress this week, the study’s authors explained the skin and fur can have a “protective effect against asthma and allergies”.

They said that previous studies have suggested that exposure to a wider range of environments was advisable but that these findings had not been proven in urban settings.

In this new study, researchers investigated almost 2,500 children from a city environment who had been exposed to animal skin by sleeping on the material shortly after birth.

The researchers collected information during the first three months of life and then on their health until they were 10 years old.

Information on 2,441 children was used in the study, with 55% of those included sleeping on animal skin in their first three months.

The results show that sleeping on animal skin is associated with a reduced risk of a number of factors connected to asthma. The chance of having asthma at the age of six was 79% lower in children who had slept on animal skin after birth compared with those who were not exposed to animal skin. The risk decreased to 41% by the age of 10.

“Previous studies have suggested that microbes found in rural settings can protect from asthma,” explained Dr Christina Tischer from the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen Research Centre.

“An animal skin might also be a reservoir for various kinds of microbes, following similar mechanisms as has been observed in rural environments. Our findings have confirmed that it is crucial to study further the actual microbial environment within the animal fur to confirm these associations.”

The conference also heard that a baby has a greater risk of asthma if his or her father smoked prior to conception.

That study examined a possible link between habits before conception and asthma.

“The findings add to growing evidence from animal studies which suggest that the father’s exposures before parenthood can harm his child,” the European Lung Foundation said.

The results showed that non-allergic asthma (without hayfever) was significantly more common in children with a father who smoked prior to conception.

This risk of asthma increased if a father smoked before the age of 15 and this risk grew the longer the duration of smoking. The researchers observed no link between the mother’s smoking prior to conception and a child’s asthma.

“Given these results, we can presume that exposure to any type of air pollution, from occupational exposures to chemical exposures, could also have an effect,” added Dr Cecile Svanes, from the University of Bergen, Norway.

“It is important for policymakers to focus on interventions targeting young men and warning them of the dangers of smoking and other exposures to their unborn children in the future.”

Read: 76-year-old woman diagnosed with cystic fibrosis is Ireland’s oldest ever case

More: Childhood asthma rates linked to black smoke in Galway

Related: This woman doesn’t smoke but cigarettes have almost killed her

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