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3 Surprising New Studies About Asthma

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The risks of asthma could be reduced by proper breast feeding, vitamin D intake and with Amish lifestyle.

Asthma affects 300 million people worldwide. It is a common inflammatory condition where excess mucus is produced in the airways leading to narrow and swollen airways. It becomes difficult to breathe and may trigger coughing fits and wheezing. The severity of asthma attack can range from minor to life-threatening.

In the last few months three promising studies have shown how to decrease asthma attacks.

1. Vitamin D Supplements May Reduce Severe Asthma Attacks

Results from 7 published trials on 435 children and 2 trials on 658 adults from different universities were reviewed. These universities all form a part of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of researchers who review medical evidence.

They found that people with mild to moderate asthma who took vitamin D supplements with their regular medications for 6 to 12 months dropped their asthma attack rate from 6% to 3%.1

Vitamin D helps boosts the immune system since it is critical for every cell function. The immune system is then able to fight against respiratory infections and keep inflammation levels under control.

2. Breastfeeding May Cut the Risk of Some Asthma Symptoms

On September 4, 2016 the European Respiratory Society presented at the International Congress the results of a study which included 368 infants with genetic profiles linked to asthma. The study found that children breastfed for their 1st year of life had a 27% decreased risk of developing respiratory symptoms, while those who were not breastfed had an increased risk of developing respiratory infections and asthma.2

It is well-known that breastfeeding helps develop children’s immune systems. It is now confirmed that breastfeeding helps decrease the risk of developing asthma.

3. Amish Lifestyle May Protect Children from Asthma

9% of U.S. children have asthma. A study was recently conducted on Amish children since they have extremely low rates of asthma and allergies.3 The study was published in the (average age 11) with 30 Hutterite children (average age 12).

The Amish live mostly on farms and are exposed to many environmental allergens and farm animals. The Hutterites is a similar group but with one big difference – they use mechanical farming equipment while the Amish don’t. Both groups have low rates of childhood obesity, little exposure to tobacco smoke and air pollution, follow a diet rich in fat and raw unpasteurized milk, and infants are breastfed for an extended period.

During the study, blood samples were collected, and genetic ancestry, environmental exposure, and child immune system profiles were compared. The researchers also collected and measured the microbiome found in the dust of the homes, allergens, and other disease-causing substances.

The dust samples between these groups were quite different. The researchers believe that the dust may hold the key to why the children were protected. The study results supports the “hygiene hypothesis.” The “hygiene hypothesis” states that the typical Western lifestyle of over-cleanliness and heavy indoor exposure does not allow children to be exposed to sufficient amounts of allergens in the environment. These children are unable to adequately stimulate their immune system and build antibodies against these allergens.

The study discovered that only 5% of Amish children have asthma, while 21% of Hutterite children had asthma. The study found the significant difference between the asthma rate in both of these population was attributed to the differences in the dust samples in each group.

More studies are needed to clarify the results, and we are interested to see where the research leads. In the meantime, there are many ways to treat asthma, and should you or your child experience asthma or allergy symptoms, make sure to visit your doctor.

References   [ + ]

1.Martineau, Adrian, Andrea Takeda, Ulugbek Nurmatov, Aziz Sheikh, and Chris J. Griffiths. “Vitamin D for the management of asthma.” The Cochrane Library (2015).
2.Whiteman, Honor. “Breast-feeding may reduce asthma symptoms for at-risk infants.” Medical News Today.
3.Differences in immune regulatory phenotypes in two US farming populations mirror differential asthma and atopy risk: studies in Amish and Hutterite school children.
Payal Bhandari M.D.

I provide personalized, comprehensive primary care in an integrative, holistic way to families and individuals of all ages. I went into the field of medicine to help people. Medical school taught me how to diagnose illnesses with countless textbook examples and practice. Experience has taught me how to read peoples' maladies, and to restore patients back to being whole. By taking a deeper look at the root cause of disease and embracing the mind, body, and spirit, I work with patients in transforming them back to wellness.

Payal Bhandari M.D.

I provide personalized, comprehensive primary care in an integrative, holistic way to families and individuals of all ages. I went into the field of medicine to help people. Medical school taught me how to diagnose illnesses with countless textbook examples and practice. Experience has taught me how to read peoples' maladies, and to restore patients back to being whole. By taking a deeper look at the root cause of disease and embracing the mind, body, and spirit, I work with patients in transforming them back to wellness.