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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health - a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM - that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
Despite their similar genetic ancestries and lifestyles, Amish kids are significantly less susceptible to asthma compared to Hutterite children, finds an interesting, recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The small, intense study of 30 Amish (in Indiana) and 30 Hutterite (in S. Dakota) children found the immune systems of Amish kids comparatively were far less susceptible to developing asthma.
The study's 20 authors note there were significant differences in the microbial composition of the dust samples taken from the Amish and Hutterite homes where the children lived. In addition, the authors found a different genetic signature in the blood samples among the Amish children that mouse models suggest may provide more immunity to asthma's development.
The authors explain the impetus for the study was the previously discovered striking differences in the prevalence of asthma among Hutterite children despite a range of other similarities. The authors report about 21 percent of Hutterite children develop asthma compared to only about five percent of Amish kids.
The author of an editorial that accompanied the study explains (and we quote): "The Amish and the Hutterites are reproductively isolated farming communities that are linked by ancestry, having originated in German-speaking alpine regions of Europe. They also share a similar lifestyle that includes environmental exposures that often affect the risk of asthma with one notable exception — whereas the Amish have maintained a traditional farming practice that revolves around single-family dairy farms and eschews mechanization, the Hutterites practice large-scale, high mechanized communal farming' (end of quote).
While previous studies suggested traditional family-dairy farming and exposure to farm animals provide more protection against the development of asthma among children, the current study notes how the dust in some Amish homes ignites a child's innate immune system to deter the development of asthma.
While editorial's author acknowledges the research is based on small sample sizes, the study provides a window into the degree that changes in environmental exposure and living conditions may be associated with an increase in asthma among some American children.
Meanwhile, some basic facts about the development of asthma in kids - from the Nemours Foundation - are available within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's asthma in children health topic page. A guide for parents of children with asthma (from the American Lung Association) also is available within the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's asthma in children health topic page.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology also provides a well-written primer about prevention of allergies and asthma in kids within the 'prevention and risks factors' section of MedlinePlus.gov's asthma in children health topic page.
MedlinePlus.gov's asthma in children health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. Links to relevant clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available within the 'clinical trials' section. You can sign up to receive updates about asthma in children as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's asthma in children health topic page, please type 'asthma in children' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'asthma in children (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also has health topic pages devoted to asthma as well as allergies.
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