Bisgaard found in fact that bacterial count did NOT affect asthma. The only effect he found is that kids with a lot of bugs in them get less hay fever!
The theory that letting kids get dirty activates their immune system and protects them from auto-immune disease is a popular one and Prof. Bisgaard is hanging on to it, but there are strong indications against it. Australian Aborigines in Aboriginal settlements live in notoriously dirty conditions but have HIGH rates of autoimmune diseases such as diabetes. It's time Bisgaard faced the facts
Parents have long suspected letting their children get a bit dirty won’t do them any harm – even if the modern health and safety police say otherwise. And according to scientists, that parental instinct was right all along.
Their developing immune systems are exposed to a greater variety of bacteria than those of their cleaner counterparts, so they can cope better when germs are encountered later in life.
One in four of us now suffers from some kind of allergy, a figure that has risen in recent decades – as parents have become more worried about hygiene.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen studied 411 children for 12 years from birth, and identified a direct link between the number of different bacteria found in their bodies and the risk of developing allergies later in life.
Professor Hans Bisgaard, who led the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, said: ‘What matters is to encounter a large number of different bacteria early in life when the immune system is developing and 'learning'. ‘Our new findings match the discoveries we have made in the fields of asthma and hay fever.’
Low levels of zinc linked with autism in children as researchers hope to find treatment for the condition
Sounds more like a symptom than a cause
Children who are low in zinc may be at higher risk of autism.
A study found that large numbers of children with autism and related conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome were deficient in the mineral, which is found in meat, bread and dairy products.
The researchers said their finding provided hope for the treatment and prevention of autism.
But British experts say it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions from the study – and people should not rush out to stock up on zinc supplements.
Autism and related conditions affect more than one in 100 British children – ten times more than just 30 years ago – but the condition is still little understood.
In the latest study, researchers in Tokyo measured levels of zinc in the hair of almost 2,000 children with autism and related conditions.
This showed a ‘considerable association’ with zinc deficiency, especially in the youngest children, according to the journal Scientific Reports. Overall, almost a third of the youngsters were deficient in zinc.
The lowest levels were seen amongst the youngest children, with almost half of the boys and more than half of the girls aged up to the age of three judged to be deficient.
Some cases were severe, with one two-year-old boy having just one twelfth of the expected amount.
The researchers said it seems that infants need more zinc for growth and development than older children and that that lack of zinc early in life may be involved in the development of autism.
They concluded: ‘A nutritional approach may yield a novel hope for its treatment and prevention.’
But British experts in the development of the brain said that much more research is needed. And they stressed that linking something with a disease does not necessarily mean it caused it.
Professor Dorothy Bishop, of the University of Oxford, said: ‘If zinc deficiency is confirmed in future research, then it remains unclear whether this is a cause of autism, or rather reflective of dietary abnormalities. ‘Many children with autism will eat only a restricted range of foods and some have a habit of chewing on inedible objects.’
Uta Frith, of University College London, said there were weaknesses in the way the study was carried out. She said that on no account should people start medicating themselves – or their children – with zinc.
The professor told the Daily Mail: ‘It is just as bad to have too much zinc as too little. ‘If you take supplements, you could very well err on the side of poisoning.’