Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

May 5, 2012

Interesting – Especially the comments

Filed under: Misc — Freddie Keel @ 8:11 pm

Amish farm kids remarkably immune to allergies: study

ReutersBy Kerry Grens | Reuters – Fri, 4 May, 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Amish children raised on rural farms in northern Indiana suffer from asthma and allergies less often even than Swiss farm kids, a group known to be relatively free from allergies, according to a new study.

“The rates are very, very low,” said Dr. Mark Holbreich, the study’s lead author. “So there’s something that we feel is even more protective in the Amish” than in European farming communities.

What it is about growing up on farms — and Amish farms in particular — that seems to prevent allergies remains unclear.

Researchers have long observed the so-called “farm effect” — the low allergy and asthma rates found among kids raised on farms — in central Europe, but less is known about the influence of growing up on North American farms.

Holbreich, an allergist in Indianapolis, has been treating Amish communities in Indiana for two decades, but he noticed that very few Amish actually had any allergies.

As studies on the farm effect in Europe began to emerge several years ago, Holbreich wondered if the same phenomenon might be found in the United States.

He teamed up with European colleagues to compare Swiss farming children and non-farming children to Amish kids in Indiana.

Amish families, who can trace their roots back to Switzerland, typically farm using methods from the 1800s and they don’t own cars or televisions.

The researchers surveyed 157 Amish families, about 3,000 Swiss farming families, and close to 11,000 Swiss families who did not live on a farm — all with children between the ages of six and 12.

They found that just five percent of Amish kids had been diagnosed with asthma, compared to 6.8 percent of Swiss farm kids and 11.2 percent of the other Swiss children.

Similarly, among 138 Amish kids given a skin-prick test to determine whether they were predisposed to having allergies, only 10 kids — or seven percent — had a positive response.

In comparison, 25 percent of the farm-raised Swiss kids and 44 percent of the other Swiss children had a positive test, the researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The study did not determine why the kids who grew up on farms were less likely to develop asthma and allergies, but other research has pointed to exposure to microbes and contact with cows, in particular, to partially explain the farm effect (see Reuters Health story of May 2, 2012).

Drinking raw cow’s milk also seems to be involved, Holbreich said.

The going theory is this early exposure to the diverse potential allergens and pathogens on a farm trains the immune system to recognize them, but not overreact to the harmless ones.

As for why the Amish kids have even lower allergy and asthma rates than the other farming kids, “that piece of the puzzle we really haven’t explained,” Holbreich told Reuters Health.

He speculated that it could be at least partly a result of the Amish having larger families or spending even more time outside or in barns than people on more modern working farms.

Dr. Corinna Bowser, an allergist in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said there’s also a possibility that inherited factors could play a role.

“The Amish are still of a limited genetic pool, I would assume, because they’re much more segregated than the Swiss kids are,” she told Reuters Health.

Holbreich said upcoming studies will further investigate the differences between the farming groups, with an eye toward designing possible interventions.

For instance, pregnant mothers or young children could be exposed to the mysterious factors that seem to protect farm kids as a preventive treatment, he explained.

“The goal is to try to find a way to prevent this allergy and asthma epidemic that western populations are facing,” Holbreich said.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/Kx5841 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, online April 16, 2012.



  • They actually go outside play in dirt get bitten by insects and interact and care for animals.

    14 Replies

    • USARogue 23 hours ago

      Exactly. I was raised on a farm, we did more work before we went to school than most kids do in a month today. Fresh air, hard work and pride in having accomplished something can have a very benficial effect on a person, regadless of age.

    • George Yorns 23 hours ago

      And learning to care for animals teaches empathy something our youth are missing.

    • Yomamatolemiso 20 hours ago

      The Amish don’t Vaccinate, think about it.

  • Jon  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    lets see, they spend more than half their time outdoors, they eat foods free of chemicals, they dont stare at a tv screens. they arent overweight by the age of six. and they arent exposed to the all chemical crap the average American is from clothing to cleaning products.

    17 Replies

    • Jack 17 hours ago

      and they don’t vaccinate.

    • jane 15 hours ago

      And they have VERY low rates of autism….

    • NetShark 13 hours ago

      The Amish do vaccinate. I dont know why Jack is spamming the comment section over and over with a false statement (easily fact checked on google within’ 1 second).

  • Marc  •  1 day 0 hours ago

    Almost 100% of Amish food is unprocessed…which is to say, in the industrial processing sense. To my knowledge, table sugar is the only processed ingredient they routinely use.

    • Right U R Ken 23 hours ago

      Table sugar, while technically processed, is actually one of the purest foods around. 99.96 percent pure. Purer than some natural foods that can get more contaminated just from pollution in the air or water.

    • Right U R Ken 23 hours ago

      Just to be clear, table sugar is nothing more than the sugar that naturally occurs in Cane or Beets. You get the same sugar if you eat your beets.

    • DAWN 11 hours ago

      I doubt that they eat much table sugar. Since they live an old fashion life style, they likely eat table sugar at simular rates to people 100 or more years ago. I don’t know this for a fact, because I have never been in one of their homes. I have some very old cookbooks, and the amount of sugar… More

  • BAS  •  Noblesville, United States  •  1 day 0 hours ago

    “Drinking raw cow’s milk also seems to be involved, Holbreich said.”

    And yet our government is PROSECUTING people for selling raw milk and limiting the ability for people to drink it at all.
    Just a small example of how the nanny state actually kills our children. That is not hyperbole.

    15 Replies

    • LibertyLover 1 day 0 hours ago

      This is why we shouldn’t be butting our noses into other people’s business! What people deem detrimental today could be proven beneficial tomorrow. It’s the right of the parents to make mistakes not the government, not doctors, not nutritionists, not neighbors, not friends, co-workers, or school… More

    • Pam 1 day 0 hours ago

      I agree about the raw milk. Here in the Atlanta area we line up with our little kids to get raw cow’s milk for them. I think it is medicinal, and I wish I had started it sooner. But there are plenty of other important farm exposures, and I think the avoidance of immunizations also helps. I wish I… More

    • BAS 1 day 0 hours ago

      True liberty preserves the possibility of failure. Failure is an integral part of success. It is also a great motivator.

  • Xena  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    They eat the right foods the way God made them and they do not exist in a sterile environment.. if you live in a bubble, your immune system never gets tested and does not develop sufficiently.

    18 Replies

  • Royal Ron  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    It is because of their lean living environment, good food, good family environment. Not all the junk that city children or others are subject to!

    4 Replies

  • Brittany  •  1 day 0 hours ago

    They eat real food & drink raw milk, are active, play in the dirt, & get plenty of sunshine. I would call that a recipe for health!

    6 Replies

  • Nicki  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    “What it is about growing up on farms — and Amish farms in particular — that seems to prevent allergies remains unclear.”
    I can answer that: EXPOSURE=IMMUNITY.. Same with Germs… Seriously? It seems clear to me.. The more I stay inside, year after year, the worse my allergies get.. Amish… More

    2 Replies

  • My Clone Did it Not me  •  Sunnyvale, United States  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    Plus their homes are not made of particle board sprayed with formaldehyde and
    Chinese dry wall.

    3 Replies

  • truth  •  1 day 0 hours ago

    that is what you get when you live with nature and not against it . most are taught from birth to fear everything …take shots, short cut nature when growing food.. with all the man made chemicals in foods it is a wonder we live as long as we do.


  • Anonymous  •  1 day 0 hours ago

    i doubt they are spraying lysol on every surface in their homes. their bodies actually get used to germs.

    2 Replies

  • MoBob  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    I think we should mess around with this until these Amish kids have allergies and asthma the same as all other kids. Why don’t we just leave them alone and let them continue their healthy and hard working life styles……..

    4 Replies

  • Think it Through  •  9 hours ago

    Kids are meant to run around in grassy fields, climb trees, swim in the creek, dig holes, explore the woods, climb a hill, pick berries, build a fort, go fishing, learn from animals, follow a trail, tend their own garden patch, play on a rope swing, etc. Wonder why modern kids are too fat &… More

    1 Reply

  • DancingDogOfDeath  •  1 day 0 hours ago

    I wonder if it has something to do with, Oh, Building up an immunity?
    We keep our kids so clean and neat, And pump them full of antihistamine to protect them from bacteria, germs and pollen, But we forget that we’re also letting their immune system atrophy! So let your kids out, Let them get… More

    7 Replies

  • Kevin  •  Atlanta, United States  •  23 hours ago

    Surprise, surprise. They do not eat preservative laden pre packed crap that keeps America sick


  • SatampraZeiros  •  Charlotte, United States  •  1 day 0 hours ago

    Maybe those kids arent coddled from birth and actually have to work for respect in their communities, instead of being fat, lazy and stupid.


  • Joe P  •  Camden, United States  •  8 hours ago

    very simple i could have saved hundreds of thousands wasted dollars and time..ready…. kids raised in a natural setting around the stuff since they were born, eating food that has not been tampered with by science,ie., horomones, antibiotics or bionectically engineered food seeds…… science is… More


  • Dave  •  Rockwood, United States  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    All these problems are all worse in the city. I grew up with bad allergies but whenever I was out in the boonies they went away. Then several years down south, they were gone, now that I’m back, so are the allergies.

    2 Replies

  • SuperG  •  Portland, United States  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    This is a no brainer. The kids are exposed to all kinds of animals as babies and naturally develop resistance to allergies. Kids raised in city homes with the absence of pets develop no resistance as babies, and become allergic later in life.

    4 Replies

  • DennisR  •  Providence, United States  •  1 day 1 hour ago

    Let’s see they work hard, are around livestock, tending crops outside in the fresh air. OK so now compare that to other kids, who sit on the couch, eat junk food, drinks soda, plays video games, will not do any work and only visited zoo. Yea I have no clue to why they are immune


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