How animal wool protects children from bronchial asthma

Scientists have found that children who sleep on animal fur, i.e. wool, during the first 3 months of their lives have a reduced risk of developing asthma later in childhood.

The results of this study were presented at the International Congress of the European Respiratory Society (ERS) in Germany. The research shows – if the child is exposed to the microbial environment that is usually present in the skin and fur or wool of animals, he acquires a certain degree of protection from asthma and allergy to the components of this wool.

According to data from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bronchial asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. It is characterized by attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing and can accompany the child’s life until adulthood and even into old age.

According to the CDC, 9.3% of children and 8% of adults in the US suffer from bronchial asthma. According to 2010 data, asthma accounted for 1.8 million emergency room visits in the United States. And these numbers grow with each passing year.

In Bulgaria, according to data from 2013, every 10th child or 150,000 children suffer from this disease, and the total number of people suffering from bronchial asthma in the country is perhaps over 500,000.

Although practicing pulmonologists claim that these figures are greatly exaggerated and that no more than 2% of their patients suffer from asthma, and their asthmatic attacks are extremely rare due to modern corticosteroid therapies.

Also, according to them, in less than 5% of asthmatic children, the disease continues into adulthood, in most cases it grows by the age of 18.

Currently, science does not know what causes most cases of asthma or how this disease could be cured. Therapy consists of alleviating symptoms, however, the new research may improve our understanding of methods for the prevention of bronchial asthma.

Previous research in this area suggests that exposure to multiple allergens at an early age can help protect the body against asthma and allergies. However, this data has not yet been fully confirmed for urban living.


That is why the authors of the study focused on the study of children living in urban areas who slept on textiles /that is, bedspreads, covers, blankets/ made of animal wool during the first 3 months after birth.

The researchers collected information about the children’s health status until they were 10 years old. A total of 2,441 children were included in the study, 55% of whom slept on animal skins during the first 3 months of their lives.

Scientists found that the risk of a whole host of factors associated with asthma was lowered in babies who slept on animal skins. For example, these children were 79% less likely to develop asthma by age 6 compared to others who slept on plain textiles. By the 10th year, the protective effect decreased to 41%.

“Previous research has already shown that microbes found in rural areas can provide protection against asthma. The skin and hair of animals can be a reservoir for various microbes, which suggests similar protective mechanisms of the body to those in rural areas. Christina Tischer of the Munich Helmholtz Research Center.

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