Researchers begin study on farm children’s healthResearchers in Wisconsin have begun a study on the health of children who grow up on farms.
By: By Steve Roisum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Researchers in Wisconsin have begun a study on the health of children who grow up on farms.
Farms can be dirty and full of germs, which it turns out can be good for a baby’s immune system. Previous studies have shown that farm babies are less likely to suffer from asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues.
The National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic and the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health received $5 million grant to find out more about this link. UW pediatric allergist James Gern will lead the study.
“There is something that the farm families are doing right in raising their kids to be healthy and we'd like to know what that is,” he said.
Gern says if researchers can find out why farm kids are less likely to develop allergies it could be possible to develop a treatment for all children.
Researchers will study the first two years of 200 central Wisconsin babies, half of whom will live on farms, and half of whom won't. All of them will spend time on the farm, then be tested to see if certain things such as livestock help keep the babies from developing allergies.
Gern says that protection comes early in a child's life.
“For babies to learn properly, they need to be stimulated,” he said. “We think for the immune system to develop properly, it may need to be stimulated. We're trying to learn what those early life cues that really put the immune system on the right course.”
The study isn’t officially underway yet. The first baby was just born just last week.