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Phillips-University of Marburg Study Finds Microbes Help Mother Protect Kids from Allergies

The tendency to reach for disinfectants, stringent cleaners, and hand sanitizers is high this time of year for cold and flu prevention. During pregnancy women tend to be extra careful to reduce exposure to bugs of any kind. It appears, however, that a little exposure can go a long way as a new study found it may help prevent allergies in utero for kids later in life.

The Phillips-University of Marburg, Germany researchers found via testing on pregnant mice that exposure to environmental bacteria resulted in allergy resistant offspring. According to the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, expecting mice who inhaled barnyard microbes gave birth to pups that were protected from allergies.

Microbe exposure elicited a mild inflammatory response in the mothers characterized by an increased expression of “Toll-like” receptors (TRLs), which are microbe-sensing, as well as an increased production of the immune system cells cytokines. The maternal TRLs were necessary for the mother’s own protection but exactly how that translates to the next generation remains unknown.

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