According to the findings of a recent intriguing study, children who are brought up in rural surroundings, where they are exposed to animals and spend a significant amount of time playing outside, have immune systems that are better able to self-regulate than children who grow up in urban contexts. The participants of the research were young children from South Africa, ranging in age from 15 to 35 months, and they came from both rural and urban settings.
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According to the findings of a study that was carried out by APC Microbiome Ireland (APC) and University College Cork (UCC), the formation of a kid’s immune system throughout its formative years is heavily influenced by the living conditions in which the child is raised. The researchers investigated the ways in which environmental variables are connected to the development of atopic dermatitis (AD), often known as eczema.
This ‘immunological window of opportunity’ plays a critical role in establishing the limitations and reaction trajectories of our immune system that stay with us for life and influence the risk of immune-mediated diseases, stated Prof. Liam O’Mahony, APC principal investigator, UCC professor of Immunology, and the one who led the study.
Our bodies are able to generate numerous immunological pathways in response to “potentially detrimental exposures” and “protective exposures” during childhood. Examples of “potentially detrimental exposures” include pollution and viruses. Protective exposures include hours spent outside and with animals. The results of the study provide credence to the growing body of research that suggests that a person’s early life exposure to particular environmental triggers and lifestyle variables can have a major impact on both the individual’s immediate and long-term health.
According to the findings of the research conducted, the immune system has to learn early in life not to overreact in order to avoid having excessive reactions later in life, which can lead to disease.