‘Those who live near a farm are less likely to develop allergies’
Living relatively close to a livestock farm could lower one’s risk of developing allergies, a new study has found.
The research, published in UK medical publication Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found that exposure to farm environments during childhood and adult life seems to reduce the risk of atopic sensitisation – in other words, your tendency to develop allergies and asthma.
Previous studies have been conducted which have found that children growing up on farms are less likely to develop allergic disease than urban children.
The study was conducted among rural-dwellers in the Netherlands, in an area of high farm density.
Proximity to pig and cattle farms seems to be particularly effective according to the results of the study, but living close to poultry farms seemed to have no effect. In addition, the associations between atopy and livestock farm exposure were somewhat stronger in subjects who grew up on a farm.
Allergies to grass, at 11.8%, and house dust mite, 11.7%, were more prevalent than cat (5.2%) and dog (3.9%) allergies among those with atopy.
As expected, subjects who grew up on a farm were less often atopic compared with subjects who did not have a farm childhood history with prevalence rates of 21.6% and 33.9% respectively.
It was found that “proxies for farm density – such as the number of farms within 500m – were also clearly associated with a lower atopy prevalence”.
“A reduction of farm emissions that may affect the airways, such as fine dust and ammonia, is required to protect neighbouring residents’ health,” they added.