Sleeping on animal skin may reduce a baby’s risk of developing asthma, research suggests…Germs in the hide and fur prime the immune system not to trigger allergies, scientists believe…The finding comes from a study of 2,441 healthy German infants whose progress was monitored until the age of 10.
More than half (55%) slept on animal skin during their first three months of life. They were 79% less likely to develop asthma by six years of age than children not exposed to animal skin.
The results, presented at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress in Munich, lend support to the “hygiene hypothesis” that suggests too much cleanliness early in life can increase susceptibility to allergies.
Lead researcher Dr Christina Tischer, from the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen Research Centre, 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.”
Grandma was right. Of course, she only had to content with rural dirt, wild fur. Environments contaminated by industrial pollution probably still aren’t recommended sources for “natural”.