|The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of allergic diseases and sensitization between farm children, children in anthroposophic families, and reference children, with the aim to identify factors that may protect against allergic disease.
The study was of cross-sectional design and included 14 893 children, aged 5┬ĘC13 years, from farm families, anthroposophic families (recruited from Steiner schools) and reference children in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. A detailed questionnaire was completed and allergen-specific IgE was measured in blood.
Results: Growing up on a farm was found to have a protective effect against all outcomes studied, both self-reported, such as rhinoconjunctivitis, wheezing, atopic eczema and asthma and sensitization (allergen specific IgE ┬í├Ł0.35 kU/l).
The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for current rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms was 0.50 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.38┬ĘC0.65) and for atopic sensitization 0.53 (95% CI 0.42┬ĘC0.67) for the farm children compared to their references.
The prevalence of allergic symptoms and sensitization was also lower among Steiner school children compared to reference children, but the difference was less pronounced and not as consistent between countries, adjusted OR for current rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms was 0.69 (95% CI 0.56┬ĘC0.86) and for atopic sensitization 0.73 (95% CI 0.58┬ĘC0.92).
Conclusions: This study indicates that growing up on a farm, and to a lesser extent leading an anthroposophic life style may confer protection from both sensitization and allergic diseases in childhood.
Source: T. Alfv┬Ę┬Žn et al (2006): Allergic diseases and atopic sensitization in children related to farming and anthroposophic lifestyle ┬ĘC the PARSIFAL study. In: Allergy Volume 61 Issue 4 Page 414 - April 2006