Animal skins - protect against Asthma

Could a sheepskin rug protect babies against asthma? Infants who sleep on animal skin are 'less likely to develop allergies in later life'
• Study found babies who slept on animal skin in their first three months were 79% less likely to have developed asthma by the age of six
• By the age of 10, children who had slept on animal skin were 41% less likely to have developed asthma
• Experts said microbes found in animal skin could help protect against asthma and allergies by strengthening the immune system
• Research supports 'hygiene hypothesis' which argues too much cleanliness means we are no longer exposed to bugs that help our immune system
By Madlen Davies for MailOnline
Published: 09:22 GMT, 8 September 2014 | Updated: 14:36 GMT, 8 September 2014
Putting a baby to sleep on a sheepskin rug or investing in a furry pram liner might reduce the risk of asthma in later life.
German researchers found babies who had slept on animal skin in their first three months of life were much less likely to develop asthma and allergies by the time they were 10.
They say microbes found in animal skin could help protect against asthma and allergies by strengthening the immune system.
Babies who slept on animal skin- such as a sheepskin blanket or a furry pram liner- were 79 per cent less likely to have developed asthma by the time they were six
They added this study supports the 'hygiene hypothesis', which argues that modern society has become so obsessed with cleanliness, we no longer come into contact with some of the crucial bugs that keep our immune systems working well.
Earlier this year, experts said that picking food up off the floor, keeping a dog and regularly kissing relatives are some of the best ways to ward off allergies such as asthma.
The new research monitored 2,441 healthy German babies until the age of ten, with 55 per cent sleeping on animal skin in the first three months of life.
They found those who slept on animal skin were 79 per cent less likely to have asthma by the time they were six, compared to babies who were not exposed to it.
By the time the children were ten, the children were 41 per cent less likely to have asthma.
Lead researcher Dr Christina Tischer, from the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen Research Centre, said animal skin may have an abundance of the microbes that can protect against allergies.
Experts said that microbes found in animal skin could help protect against asthma and allergies by strengthening the immune system
She said: 'Previous studies have suggested that microbes found in rural settings can protect from asthma.
'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 study was presented at the European Respiratory Society's International Congress in Munich.

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