May 6, 2012
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.