Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Early Exposure To Germs Has Lasting Benefits

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the gift-that-keeps-on-giving dept.

Medicine 136

ananyo writes "Exposure to germs in childhood is thought to help strengthen the immune system and protect children from developing allergies and asthma, but the pathways by which this occurs have been unclear. Now, researchers have identified a mechanism in mice that may explain the role of exposure to microbes in the development of asthma and ulcerative colitis, a common form of inflammatory bowel disease. The researchers show that in mice, exposure to microbes in early life can reduce the body's inventory of invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, which help to fight infection but can also turn on the body, causing a range of disorders such as asthma or inflammatory bowel disease (abstract). The study supports the 'hygiene hypothesis,' which contends that such auto-immune diseases are more common in the developed world where the prevalence of antibiotics and antibacterials reduce children's exposure to microbes."

cancel ×

136 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

This explains it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457073)

All those bullies sticking my head in the toilet were just trying to help expose me to germs. I should send them a thank you note.

Re:This explains it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457119)

Nah, they were just washing your hair because you didn't take a shower and had little snowflakes of dandruff all over your shoulders.

Re:This explains it (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457145)

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Right?

Re:This explains it (4, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457317)

Actually, what kills 1 out of 2 kids every generation makes you stronger. That's how evolution works. But it doesn't mean we want it.

Close, Bruce (3, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457447)

What made (past tense) you stronger is the stuff that killed half of each generation of your ancestors' competition.

What doesn't kill you delays the inevitable, but if it doesn't keep you from reproducing it improves the quality of your children's mates and thus makes your grandchildren stronger.

Re:This explains it (4, Funny)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458107)

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Right?

Ever since my lobotomy, I've been bench pressing 300 pounds!!

Re:This explains it (5, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459155)

Ever since I had a lung removed I cut my smoking in half.

Re:This explains it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458481)

Right?

Unless it leaves you with a painful chronic condition or disability.

Pessimism ho!

Re:This explains it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457271)

Your welcome nerd

Re:This explains it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458151)

Don't you mean you're?

Re:This explains it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458451)

Are'nt wee be-ing pedantick.

Of course it is (5, Insightful)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457075)

Humanity (or human like creatures) survived for several hundred thousand years without modern medicine. If the body was not capable of developing defenses to disease we wouldn't still be here.

Re:Of course it is (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457125)

On the other hand, the average life span of human being was around 30 years in those early days at best. It is modern medicine and general quality of life that extends that to 70+ years.

Re:Of course it is (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457203)

Typically these numbers include an extremely high infant mortality rate, without which the difference is significantly smaller.

Re:Of course it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457247)

+1, people were not dying en-masse at 30. They were dying at 1.

Re:Of course it is (3, Insightful)

CSMoran (1577071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457279)

Typically these numbers include an extremely high infant mortality rate, without which the difference is significantly smaller.

Of course. But that doesn't mean that 0 year olds dying back then magically stopped being a problem. It merely points to a deficiency of describing a distribution with just its first moment, the mean.

Re:Of course it is (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457339)

Overall, a great deal of not surviving to reproduce, or not appearing fit to reproduce when the time came.

Re:Of course it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457771)

Typically these numbers include an extremely high infant mortality rate, without which the difference is significantly smaller.

Further food for thought: why do human females go through menopause in their late forties? That's unique to humans among mammals (and elephants, which live 70 years in the wild). There had to be some biological advantage to menopause - early humans had to be living beyond what we now consider mid-life in those 'early days' to see that advantage.

Re:Of course it is (2)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458103)

I believe a popular hypothesis was that older women go through menopause to focus on helping the community instead of raising their own children. However I don't know if the hypothesis includes an explanation as to why this is unique to humans.

Re:Of course it is (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458443)

http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/womens_health_issues/biology_of_the_female_reproductive_system/female_internal_genital_organs.html?qt=&sc=&alt=
(In the boxed part How Many Eggs?)

>Only about 400 eggs are released during a woman's reproductive life, usually one during each menstrual cycle. Until released, an egg remains dormant in its follicle-suspended in the middle of a cell division. Thus, the egg is one of the longest-lived cells in the body. Because a dormant egg cannot perform the usual cellular repair processes, the opportunity for damage increases as a woman ages. A chromosomal or genetic abnormality is thus more likely when a woman conceives a baby later in life.

The eggs have higher accumulated "data error" than most cell, so there is a reason why it is not genetically desirable to have the older female produce offspring. Menopause is probably a way for nature to reduce that number.

Re:Of course it is (3, Insightful)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458795)

At least the benefit of helping kids with the grandchildren outweighs the benefit of having more children at that age. It is well known that genetic defects like Down Syndrome rise dramatically once a woman is past her mid- to late 30s.
You also have significantly rising mortality without medicine so as long as it's not pretty much ensured that you'll last for another 10+ years the high investment in a pregnancy isn't worth it any more.
Evolution is always right.

Re:Of course it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39459703)

This is also something those guys working on stem cells from other cells are having to deal with.
Most cells get damaged quite a bit, but as long as the requirements to function as whatever cell type it is are functioning perfectly fine, there is no problem.
So when they do their magicks and reverse the cell to stem cell, results are less than desirable on the occasion.
So Stem Cells will likely remain a deep medical procedure due to the unpredictably.

Re:Of course it is (2)

ChatHuant (801522) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459189)

I believe a popular hypothesis was that older women go through menopause to focus on helping the community instead of raising their own children. However I don't know if the hypothesis includes an explanation as to why this is unique to humans

It's probably because humans are the species with the longest childhood. For most other species, the offspring matures relatively quickly and leaves the mother, freeing her to bear and raise another generation. But it takes an inordinate amount of time for human children to become independent - I think we are the only species where the duration of the fertility period for women is comparable to the time it takes for a child to become an adult. Mothers still have to care for older children while bearing and raising younger ones. The availability of help in raising the kids becomes an evolutionary advantage, allowing the mother to have more children and ensuring they're better cared for.

This may also explain other peculiarities of the human species - for example, for most mammals fertility comes in cycles, allowing the raising of a generation to independence before the next one comes. This is not the case in humans, who are fertile all the time.

Re:Of course it is (3, Interesting)

next_ghost (1868792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458175)

How could losing the ability to reproduce be beneficial to ones own reproduction among social placental mammals? The obvious thing that comes to mind is that you get slightly longer life (you can't die from giving birth anymore) which you will use (driven by your instincts) to take care of your grandkids so that the faster and stronger members of your tribe (in other words, your adult kids) can go get food.

Re:Of course it is (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458475)

Try western diet devoid of phytoestrogens. This isn't very common in other cultures and if you read some Aristotle he talks about women bearing children into their 60's.

Re:Of course it is (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458689)

There had to be some biological advantage to menopause - early humans had to be living beyond what we now consider mid-life in those 'early days' to see that advantage.

There doesn't need to be a specific advantage to menopause, there just needs to be no disadvantage.

Re:Of course it is (1)

cdp0 (1979036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457839)

Both of you are right, so let's just say it's about balance. Let the body fight and adapt as much as it can, help it when it can't do it anymore.

Re:Of course it is (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457127)

Which could have happened without this particular interaction. What's your point?

Re:Of course it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457131)

Is it not also likely that the act of eating meat contributed to this strength?

"Its bad for us, that's why we need to eat it."

Re:Of course it is (2)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457363)

Is it not also likely that the act of eating meat contributed to this strength?

Eating meat is great for you given all of the other parameters that obtained before about 1700. But more for versatility of the ecological niche you could fit yourself into than any other reason.

Re:Of course it is (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457153)

Humanity (or human like creatures) survived for several hundred thousand years without modern medicine. If the body was not capable of developing defenses to disease we wouldn't still be here.

Main difference in modern life is that most of us live long enough to see our grand-children and usually our great-grand children - human like creatures 10,000+ years ago probably didn't.

It's a new thing to do, and we've been getting much better at it in the last 100 years. Dental hygiene seems to be a good thing overall. Not drinking toilet water, while mostly good, also seems to have some bad aspects like Polio (and, yes, we've found another way around _that_ one, but there are others...)

I sincerely hope that the study of pro-biotics starts yielding more useable knowledge soon, making your own kefir seems like a hit and miss affair right now.

You underestimate our ancestors (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457495)

Main difference in modern life is that most of us live long enough to see our grand-children and usually our great-grand children - human like creatures 10,000+ years ago probably didn't.

Ten thousand years ago, our ancestors were very much like us today. You'd have a hard time telling us apart assuming similar childhood environments.

As for grandchildren -- it doesn't take a long lifespan when girls are mothers at 15. And bear in mind that humans evolved menopause. It didn't just happen, it's a complex process that has evolutionary costs and so must have significant evolutionary benefits. Which means that our very distant ancestors must have lived until their 50s often enough to make a difference. Hunter/gatherers today (and a hundred years ago) do, so it's hardly surprising.

Re:You underestimate our ancestors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457747)

It might be that fertile old ladies failed to raise their late-born children just as often as infertile old ladies failed to have late-born children, so there was no selection pressure to prevent the reproductive system from shutting down in old ladies. For all we know, there might be an evolutionary cost to having a reproductive system that won't quit: reduced fertility at younger ages, increased metabolic demands, or even higher rates of illnesses among younger women due to a change in hormone production.

"evolved" menopause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457915)

Maybe menopause is just the design life of the equipment. They didn't live to reach it before, probably fertile throughout their normal life, and they do reach it now because we have increased life span but didn't do diddly about increasing MTBF for certain components. Just like schizoid dementia or alzheimers or prostate cancer happen at certain ages - it doesn't mean that we "evolved" these but simply started living past the age where they start showing up.

Re:You underestimate our ancestors (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458305)

The number I've heard kicked around forever is an "average" lifespan of 30 years in primitive society... some live to 100, but most do not.

We've got a lot of interesting diseases to work on curing today, things that simply would have made us dead in the past, now we hang around and suffer long enough for the medical community to classify our conditions and try to do something about them - they even succeed occasionally.

Re:You underestimate our ancestors (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458489)

Maybe it has less to do with 'evolution' and more to do with diet. This is the problem with western science always generalizing cultural norms to the human population as a whole.

Most Westerners eat garbage or severely unbalanced diets and it has a large effect on fertility, sperm mobility, and 'aging' effects.

Occam's Razor (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458625)

The short lifetimes of our distant ancestors mostly came from accident and infectious disease -- and up until 60 or so, your odds against both actually improve the older you get. Maybe fewer of them made it to those ages, but once they got out of childhood a fair number did. After that, their teeth were more likely to give out before their hearts did or before cancer got them (etc.)

As for the aging effects of modern lifestyles, I think if you research it you'll find that a reasonably active modern American is much more likely to be in good health than our ancestors were. There was a study published a couple of years ago (IIRC) that did a statistical workup of the average American of 150 years ago, and it wasn't a happy one. No question they were tough, because they had to be to make it through the week with their bodies in the shape they were: poorly-healed fractures and joint injuries, rheumatic heart disease, tuberculosis, endocarditis, rotten teeth, you name it.

Re:Occam's Razor (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458861)

umm, you were talking about the 'evolution' of menopause, not sure what anything you're saying now has to do with that.

Active modern american? That's a laugh, how about we talk about the general population, you can't pick and choose your populations. Second, US'ians were never anything to be proud of, they've never really had healthy diets and westerners in general don't have rich balanced culinary diets, but the USian culture has very little experience with food in general since it's so young.

Re:Of course it is (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458635)

Sure they did. Don't let the 'life expectancy' numbers fool you. IF (and it was a big if) you survived past infancy, you would likely live a good while.

Re:Of course it is (5, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457195)

Not entirely true. Grains harvested in the Mesopotamian region for the past 20,000 years contain a fungus that produces potent antibiotics. This was discovered by analyzing those who drank beer (albeit over a paltry 8,000 years) and finding the residue in the bones. Once the source was traced back to the fungus, it was obvious that anyone eating grains in the Middle East since the advent of farming (20,000 years ago) will have had "modern medicine".

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/antibiotic-beer/ [wired.com]

Before then? Well, honey is another rich source of antibiotics. It's also a hygroscopic material, so applying it to burns will not only kill bacteria but will also reduce inflammation, build-ups of toxins, etc.

It's unclear when Neolithic man first developed brain surgery, but there's no question that he did and that patients survived.

So man has had a LOT of medical assistance for a very long time. Not as much as in modern times, true, but it wasn't zero. Not by a long way.

Dog licking (1)

a-zA-Z0-9$_.+!*'(),x (1468865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458915)

I thought doctors had dogs lick head wounds to cure them.

Re:Of course it is (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457221)

That, and the invention of spears. To protect against infected woolly mammoths.

Re:Of course it is (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458369)

I for one welcome our zombie mammoth overlords.

Not of course (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457257)

This isn't a question of if the body can defend itself, but if it is better to let it do so or not. For example you can also heal from a broken bone, however it is better to not have to. Near as we can tell it is all downsides, no upsides to breaking bones. When you are young there are usually little long term downsides (at least if it isn't major) but still no upsides.

What these studies indicate is that is not the case with illness. It is actually better to get sick at an early age than not to. It looks like it is even more of a matter than it helps develop your defenses, but that they may actually be more likely to turn against you if they aren't used.

That is not at all obvious, and rather interesting research.

Not exactly (3, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457623)

What these studies indicate is that is not the case with illness. It is actually better to get sick at an early age than not to.

s/sick/exposed to some bacteria/ There's a big difference between being exposed to common bacteria of the soil and animal digestive tracts and coming down with smallpox, meningitis, etc. From the articles I've read, the protective effect is seen with completely harmless bacteria, so there's no reason to claim benefits from exposure to pathogens. Especially when you consider that infant diarrhea accounted for the majority of that 50% infant mortality.

With some exceptions. If your lifetime chances of avoiding a pathogen are slim, it may be better to be esposed in infancy while getting lots of maternal antibodies with every meal, assuming that Mama also gets exposed often enough to maintain a high antibody titre. That process is why polio was less of a threat in the 17th century, where the stuff was in the water supply all over the world, than in the 20th where we were actually doing things that blocked routine fecal-oral transmission.

All in all, with pathogens I prefer vaccination where possible.

Re:Not exactly (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459245)

Yep soil bacteria can even improve mood:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18082129/ns/health-livescience/t/soil-bacteria-can-boost-immune-system/ [msn.com]

And increase learning ability... in mice ;) http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=soil-bacteria-might-increase-learni-10-05-24 [scientificamerican.com]

Many like the smell after rain which partly results from bacteria: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geosmin [wikipedia.org]

Re:Of course it is (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457373)

"Of course" early exposure to germs reduces allergies and asthma?

And while humans managed not to go extinct without the benefits of modern medicine, we did suffer from extremely high infant mortality, mostly from disease. The primary reason our life expectancy is so much higher today is because infant mortality dominated the average in the past and dragged it way down. So maybe these results are not quite so obvious.

Re:Of course it is (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457381)

Species go extinct all the time. And despite what many would lead you to believe the cause isn't usually humanity. Not only is it possible for us to go extinct, there were many other human-like creatures that died out in the past few thousand years. We are the last of our kind, granted there are a lot of us... but the possibility of a disease showing up that wipes us out is a very real possibility. Our only hope is science and medicine. Things we are just beginning to understand.

Re:Of course it is (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458307)

there is a difference between surviving and thriving.

Re:Of course it is (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458757)

True, but prior to the development of modern medicine average lifespan was a heck of a lot shorter.

In Rome life expectancy at birth was about 25.

http://www.utexas.edu/depts/classics/documents/Life.html [utexas.edu]

Maintaining population was a big deal. Women were married as soon as they hit puberty and were expected to be pregnant except when nursing. Few women made it to old age.

So yes humans can survive without modern medicine. But it isn't as nice.

Re:Of course it is (3, Informative)

plasm4 (533422) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459849)

It's really worth having a look at the chart in the link. If you lived to 5 years old, your life expectancy would then be 48. If you lived to be 20, then you would be expected to live to 54.

Re:Of course it is (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459685)

Humanity also survived a few hundred thousand years before the advent of nutrient-negative slop that impersonated food - the difference between now and the peak of [insert historical empire here] is that they built their immune systems on real food, not this pasteurised, boiled, microwaved, vacuum-packed, irradiated, freeze dried, left on a shelf for a year shite most of us have to put up with. The sooner more people realise this and adjust their diets accordingly, the sooner companies such as Monsanto and Pfizer and Glaxo~1 will go the way of the dinosaur as their manufactured pharmaceutical market dries up and the healthier people will feel and the happier they'll be. Until then, keep popping those horsepills. Suckers.

To preempt any naysayers: I'd rather live 40 years in peak physical health than 80 being dependent on drugs which cost MONEY which a lot of us don't have much of.

Sorry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457139)

Finding this hard to swallow personally. I was born with pneumonia and had chronic infections early in life. In my 20s I am still plagued by allergies, asthma and generally poor health despite generally good habits as far as diet, exercise, and hygiene. I cringe when I think about what kind of state I'd be in if I didn't.

Re:Sorry (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457167)

Finding this hard to swallow personally. I was born with pneumonia and had chronic infections early in life. In my 20s I am still plagued by allergies, asthma and generally poor health despite generally good habits as far as diet, exercise, and hygiene. I cringe when I think about what kind of state I'd be in if I didn't.

The theory goes that it's too late for sloppy hygiene to help you much, now, but if you ate more dirt as a kid, you'd be healthier.

Most of my anecdotal observations in life tend tend to agree: life in a bubble isn't good for you, even if you never leave it.

Re:Sorry (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457179)

Most of my anecdotal observations in life tend tend to agree: life in a bubble isn't good for you, even if you never leave it.

Ah, but the big questions remains unanswered: Does the basement count? Do Dorito bits count as dirt? Are keyboards a good source of antigens for the early immune system?

Re:Sorry (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458283)

Most of my anecdotal observations in life tend tend to agree: life in a bubble isn't good for you, even if you never leave it.

Ah, but the big questions remains unanswered: Does the basement count? Do Dorito bits count as dirt? Are keyboards a good source of antigens for the early immune system?

Better than nothing, I suspect, but there's a bit too much homo (self-sameness) in that form of homeopathy to help you if you ever leave the basement.

Re:Sorry (5, Insightful)

MaxEmerika (701730) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457193)

Getting sick isn't the point. In fact, it might be exposure to relatively harmless microbes that helps stave off auto-immune disorders. The problem is that antibacterials/antimicrobials kill everything, not just the bugs that pose a threat.

Just a hypothesis (5, Interesting)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457211)

It's a good one, but there are several competing theories out there too. One of the best I've seen is the correlation between acetaminophen use in children and the development of asthma in children [nytimes.com] . It just so happens that clean, microbe-adverse developed nations have much more access to acetaminophen than dirty, unsanitized third world countries....

This is not just a hypothesis. (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457841)

No. It's no longer a hypothesis if you've found the underlying mechanism. This is now officially a theory.

glutathione (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458719)

actually dont dismiss this study. asthma is frequently multicausal and the human immune system is complex.

Acetaminophen would deplete the liver of _glutathione_ which is a major antioxidant. i believe a genetic susceptibility to lower glutathione combined with over cooked nutrient poor food deficent in critical aminoacids could do it, there are lots of connecting factors. consider the luketrine inhibitors developed these days, all this medical research and suffering and cruelty over a lifestyle and nutrient driven disease. and i saw this as an asthmatic that uses corticosteriods and several different bronchodialators . i also find the hygiene hypothese sad because asthma im my case developed when i was 15, previously i'd spent years swimming, i loved it underwater and would spend many days at pools and rivers or the beach in my youth, suddenly i lost the ability to fill or empty my lungs without several times more effort and delay, making everything more difficult when you can get your breath at all. i was born in india, and south africa. i didnt even see a toilet that wasnt simply a hole in the ground until i'd come to a "western" country after age 10. i had malaria when i was very young, there are theories relating that and igE too. i had lots of infections when i was young and because i lived in institutions i was given antibiotics although there was very poor control of infections achieved in the school. then 10years later i suddenly develop asthma, and its not as if it was an instant diagnosis, my mother refused to allow me steriods until i was old enough to consent for myself so for that time i lived on bronchodialators. during high school i would go to my room during recess and have a nebuliser with the lights out listening to music. now i can get by with a bit of dietary modification, keeping a very clean dust free, carpet free house and a minimum of steriods. but i still cant breath as effortlessly as i remember when i was in my early teens, unless ive taken huge amount of bronchodialators, to the point of being undesireable because of the side effects and long term health implications.

when i discovered glutathione it was life changing. i can reduce the medication i use. together with coQ10 i can sleep without needing medication to be able to breath in the night to get back to sleep.

Re:Just a hypothesis (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458837)

Why is it that every theory on the subject has to point to one cause? I find it much more likely that a number of factors combine to produce the effect. Acetaminophen use could be one, lack of germ exposure could be another. I think it's quite likely that children breast feeding less in developed nations contributes as well. Heck, the fact that we're able to save so many children that would die in infancy with third-world medicine means that the ones that do survive in those third-world countries will be stronger.

Alone, they likely wouldn't produce a noticeable effect, but combined it's enough to be noticeable.

So all my health problems now... (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457245)

... are due to not eating enough dirt as a kid. Well, I tried, but you know what mothers are like.

Re:So all my health problems now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457541)

... are due to not eating enough dirt as a kid. Well, I tried, but you know what mothers are like.

And you should know what most kids are like too: They do it anyway, when the mother isn't looking.

Vaccinate early and often, and breast-feed (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457297)

If this is true (it'll take time for other experiments, etc.), what it says is vaccinate early, and make sure that a wide and varying range of valid human disease antigens are presented.

And breast-feed, which we already knew. Some immune components are transferred with that milk.

What it doesn't say is give up on sanitation, homogenization, etc. The other side of that would be a high infant mortality. We don't really want to be putting intense evolutionary selection pressure on our own kids.

I guess I'd be a counterexample... (2, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457301)

...I was sick as hell as a kid, and grew up to develop an autoimmune issue. I always assumed that the illnesses I went through as a kid gave me a ninja immune system. This would kind of imply the opposite. Most research I've seen suggests that being sick when young does in fact build the immune system.

Re:I guess I'd be a counterexample... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39459271)

Some of those alive now with asthma, peanut allergies, etc, might just not have been around in the old days.

Infant mortality was high. Mothers dying during childbirth was also high.

In the old days you might not have lived long enough to be a counter example. In some cultures they may not even have given you an official name yet.

Re:I guess I'd be a counterexample... (3, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459673)

Your individual experience doesn't mean very much. It's like the ninety-year-old grandfather who smoked a pipe every day of his life and died falling off a horse. Only one in three smokers die of smoking-related diseases, so you'd expect there to be lots of healthy nonagenarian smokers running around. It doesn't mean it's good for you.

Association with early vaccination anyone? (1)

tr2sa (1426161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457315)

Long term changes in gene expression possible depending on the age timing of individual immune system loading. Why this sounds familiar - ah, the individual clinical immunology vs. population wide epidemiological benefits fight again. So, any funding to long term research on synapse remodeling connected to induced immune responses in humans (like 10-15 years) or just continue to let the complement cascade to eat the toddlers bit stupid?

Statistically absurd (2)

roger_pasky (1429241) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457371)

Third world is not a proof because, unfortunately, non surviving children unbalances the sample. There are no adult asthma cases when they died at three. There where no Alzheimer cases when life expectancy was shorter than today.

Glad this is finally being proven. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457393)

All those nutcases throwing around how our produced-foods society is causing all these new illnesses.
Is it hell. It is because we are being stupidly over-clean.

Biology never evolved in a sterile laboratory, it evolved with constant bombardments of infection that helps the body calibrate sensitivity, in exactly the same way that your skins touch sensors adapt to air pressure, your eyes adapt to light and countless others. Why should it have been any different to the immune systems sensitivity?

In fact, there is a partial truth to the produced-foods part, and that is more of a case that the food is too clean rather than microbe-filled.
We have been taught that all possible microbes in food are terrible, but are they?
Only a few select sources of food are overly-infected with nasty things, specifically beef supplies (which are just horrible for you in general)
Most other things are completely safe eaten raw. That includes milk, which has been blasted as dangerous to drink raw, but actually aids people with autoimmune. (now if only there was an actual full-on study for it since the sporadic cases of it all around are promising)
Fact is, if there is any sort of food source infection, the odds of you even getting it are as likely as you getting madcow disease or some other rare illness from eating, simply due to all the safeguards we have in taking care of animals, tracking food all across the world, etc.
Overly-cooked foods are of course bad for you, since burned foods contain carcinogens. But good luck getting anyone off that, some people like their food charred a little. You'll never be able to stop the grill lovers either.

As a person with crohns, it pleases me more is being found out about the intestinal tract and how the immune system functions there.
There was a recent huge discovery on how the immune functions were expressed there to prevent it from attacking vital resources and nutrients.
As an illness that is claiming so many more people due to this clean-freakishness that has become of society in recent years, it is about time people start to realize that clean isn't all there is to being healthy.

Re:Glad this is finally being proven. (4, Insightful)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457969)

Only a few select sources of food are overly-infected with nasty things, specifically beef supplies (which are just horrible for you in general)

Most other things are completely safe eaten raw. That includes milk

I hate to break it to you, but milk and beef comes from the same filthy animal.

Re:Glad this is finally being proven. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39459005)

Or Godly animal, depending on who you are.

Dirt (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457401)

The study supports the 'hygiene hypothesis,' which contends that such auto-immune diseases are more common in the developed world where the prevalence of antibiotics and antibacterials reduce children's exposure to microbes."

Not to mention soap, bleach, clean water for washing, floor coverings, indoor heating and cooling, etc.

In the 11th century, Maimonides wrote about asthma -- in the children of the nobility of Spain, where they actually washed and generally kept house before the Christians reconquered the Iberian Peninsula and made handwashing (etc.) cause for you to be hauled off by the Inquisition. The children of the poor, on the other hand, had dirt floors and crawled around in the dirt with dogs, chickens, goats, etc.

Re:Dirt (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458735)

Yes, and in the 11th century about 50% of children died before attaining the age of 5.

George Carlin was right! (2)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457465)

You mean George Carlin was right?

"Wouldn't want some guy goin to hell and be sick!" - George Carlin [youtube.com]

Re:George Carlin was right! (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457511)

Raw sewage! It strengthened our immune systems! We were tempered in raw shit.

Re:George Carlin was right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458011)

"No one in my neighborhood ever got polio"

Idiotic. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457719)

This "science" brought to you by the same people who think global warming is real and that humans evolved from apes. When will the idiocy stop?

I always figured... (1)

RevSpaminator (1419557) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457761)

That is why I try to play The Germs for the kids at least once a month.

Getting immune (0)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457763)

Getting immune to "stuff" is good for you (as a species). News at a 11 - maybe a film at 1. Patently obvious frankly.

DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457803)

THAT was the problem in the 90's. Small children would get a sniffle...helicopter parents run them off to the doctor
for "a pill". Some do anything they can to keep from getting sick. Getting sick and letting your body heal itself
(within reason), will make you less likely to get sick the next time because the ANTIBODIES will build up in your system.
The other thing is to eat raw veggies. Cooked ones or processed ones take all the "good stuff" out of them.

soil to the wound (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457951)

soil to the wound was a typical street recommendation 40 years ago on my street.

"Unclean. Un-Unclean..." (3, Informative)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457961)

Am I the only one who gets a titch annoyed with people who carry antibac-hand-gel everywhere to use at the SLIGHTEST of exposure to the world? I'm not talking people who use it when going to the doc's or at the grocery store if they're touching meat and stuff, but every. damned. time they touch any-thing at all. They're not even germaphobic, it just seems the 'in-thing'. Every time I've used it, I feel like I've taken a dive into an six-foot deep alcohol pool, and it burns.

Re:"Unclean. Un-Unclean..." (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458827)

Am I the only one who gets a titch annoyed with people who carry antibac-hand-gel everywhere to use at the SLIGHTEST of exposure to the world?

If that's annoying you, then...well, let me paraphrase your sig:

You want to know how to help those people? LEAVE THEM THE F*&K ALONE.

Okay, sure (1)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457985)

Assume this study is 100% true.

I'll still take auto-immune diseases over dysentery or pneumonia in children: the two biggest killers of children in the world. Caused by germs.

Re:Okay, sure (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458711)

Well, of course that's the thing.

While what doesn't kill you makes you stronger none of this gives you an assessment on whether or not a population is better off over their lives with this exposure or not.

Re:Okay, sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458891)

both can be treated with antibiotics and a week or two of bed rest.

Auto immune diseases like lupus and celiac can't be cured without long and disruptive allergy surgery, and can and will kill children just as easily.

Ill take my chances with the dysentery or pneumonia.

Re:Okay, sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39459589)

Dysentery and pneumonia kills (basically) only if not cured. Cure requires few antibiotics and week or two in bed, hardly a problem for a kid.

The research doesn't suggest that we should stop curing patients...

Mother knows best (1)

brumby (93242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458053)

When I used to take my kids around to see their grandparents, they'd rush outside to play with the dog in the dirt. My mother used to just smile and say, "Dirt is an essential nutrient for toddlers."

Home schooling (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458171)

How does this affect the home schooled children who do not have the microbial benefit of socializing with the other rug-rat microbe incubators in a classroom environment?

I once wrote applications for DOS and Windows 3.1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458569)

Talk about buggy environments, that was the mother lode right there.

Short form of a crash prompt in a DOS shell:
Abort, Retry, Fail?

Long form:
Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail?

Typical reminder above Windows 3.1 developers' desks:
SS != DS

"Guns, Germs, and Steel" . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459353)

. . . so throw in some exposure to Guns and Steel, and your children should be all set for life.

Note that in the case of Guns, polarity is important. Exposure to the wrong side of the Gun may have the exact opposite effect.

Re:"Guns, Germs, and Steel" . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39459695)

I'd say that we're lacking evolutionary pressure in the "clue" department. Not telling the younglings about the polarity could be beneficial for the species...

The war on bacteria (2)

ToddInSF (765534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459419)

has gone almost as well as the war on drugs.

Interesting implications (2)

mrjb (547783) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459569)

I'm interested in whether this would apply for bacteria only or if it goes for viruses as well. You see, bowel disorders (specifically inflammatory bowel disease) are a lot more prevalent in children with autism than in children without. I'm probably going to be flamed to hell for this, but this study would suggest that there might yet be a possible link between vaccines and autism. Studies so far have focused on the heavy metals in the vaccines.

IV Natural Killer T (1)

Ritzbitts (1605431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459633)

Invariant Natural Killer T? Sounds like a rapper.

funny... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39459659)

My mother worried when I *didn't* come home caked in mud after playing out with my friends all day... saying that, I have never had a cold, flu, chest infection or anything. Never had a day off school or work through illness either.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?