Interesting article, below, on something I've been puzzling over.
Our children have been raised with pets (dogs and hamsters) and have spent lots of time outdoors from their young years. They ride their bikes and play in the dirt and the creek. At home, we are tidy people, I guess, but we aren't Purell devotees. For the first couple years of my kids' lives (Sarah's first 9 months), we lived near a free farm-animal petting zoo, which I loved and frequented with them probably about once a month. The two boys ate traditional baby food, but everything Sarah ate as a baby came straight from my plate (and she is, interestingly, the least picky eater). My children have lived and traveled all over the country and world, including the Far East.
So why do all three of my children have more severe allergies that David and I do (and our parents and siblings)? Maybe we overexposed them. Or...it may be that all of this was not really enough exposure. Perhaps this article holds some clues:
"Martinez was intrigued. What, he asked, would happen if von Mutius took into account the sizes of her East German and West German families? The data were incomplete, but it was the less allergic East Germans who clearly had more children per family. She and Martinez followed up with a study comparing family sizes and allergy in Munich and Leipzig (and a neighboring city)."
"[Studies] reveal what’s termed 'the farming effect,' a phenomenon that protects against allergic disease. Von Mutius and her colleagues have narrowed the effect down to three key factors: livestock (specifically cows, pigs or poultry); type of fodder (for instance, whether it’s fresh grass or hay); and drinking of raw farm milk."
LINK: WHY ARE THERE MIGHT BE MORE PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES TODAY