The Hygiene Hypothesis

The prevalence of allergic diseases has dramatically increased in recent decades, and these diseases currently affect one in five people in the US. Allergic and autoimmune diseases also reduce quality of life and they are expensive, costing approximately $15 billion annually. The massive increase in allergy has occurred along with many social changes, such as altered infant feeding practices, antibiotic use, urban living, and reduced family size. All these lifestyle changes can result in reduced microbial exposure. How important could it be to have a diverse microbiota in early life?  More generally, how does exposure to microorganisms affect chronic inflammation and allergic diseases? Is exposure to a diverse microbial environment a good or bad thing for human? Should physicians treat diseases by manipulating gut bacteria?

Bach 2002

Bach 2002 NEJM 347:12

Writing assignment:

How does exposure to microorganisms affect chronic inflammation and allergic diseases?  Is exposure to a diverse microbial environment a good or bad thing for humans?

Readings:

1)HygieneHypothesis

2) 99th Dahlem Conference on Infection, Inflammation and Chronic Inflammatory Disorders: Darwinian medicine and the ‘hygiene’ or ‘old friends’ hypothesis 2010. Rook G. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 160: 70–79. (optional)

3) Missing Microbes

(If you have time, listen to the interview and read the excerpt in the link above.)

4) Bach Hygiene Hypothesis

Optional extras:

Highly recommended Radiolab program on hygiene and hookworm:

Radiolab hookworm story

Excellent NPR piece on microbiota diversity:

Microbiota

One thought on “The Hygiene Hypothesis

  1. Pingback: The Five Foundations of Health for Children

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