Farm Life Linked to Fewer Allergies, Less Asthma
Study: Amish Farm Children Have Lower Rates of Hay Fever
Raw Milk Protective?
So what is it about the Amish lifestyle that protects against allergies? Holbreich says previous research points to two factors. One is being around large barn animals from a young age, he says. The other: drinking raw, unpasteurized milk directly from the cow.
"We think that when milk is homogenized, it breaks up fat molecules that have an impact on the developing immune system to make kids less prone to all allergies," he says.
But don't start giving your child raw milk, as it can harbor disease-causing bacteria, Holbreich cautions.
"The hope is that we can isolate the protective factor in raw milk and develop an infant formula to prevent allergies," he says.
Jessica Savage, MD, MHS, of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, agrees that the work appears to support the hygiene hypothesis. "But this is all still very preliminary," she tells WebMD.
These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary, as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.