LOS ANGELES, CA - In recent decades, the prevalence of asthma and allergies has increased threefold in the United States. These days one in twelve children have asthma. Even more suffer from allergies.
These numbers started to rise in the late 20th century. But it was in the 19th century that their was a hint of a population wide affliction among the American and British upper classes. Hay fever so closely hewed the class lines that it was practically seen as a mark of refinement. Farmers, the people who most often were in contact with pollens and animal dander were the ones least likely to get it.
Then, just a few years ago, researchers found a modern American example of the phenomenon: The Amish. Amish children are among the least allergic subgroup ever measured in the developed world.
So why is that? Well the answer seems to lie in the Amish Cowshed. The Amish community keeps their cow shed right next to their homes, unlike similar communities like the Hutterite who keeps their cows miles away. By living so closely to these cowshed, and the fathers working and the children playing in them, they are more likely to bring more microbes into the home.
So it seems like if you want your kids to grow up without allergies it's up to you to take the bull by the horns.