Children who grow up on dairy farms are less likely to develop allergies such as asthma or hay fever, a recent scientific study in the Belgium has shown.
It shows that farms may be the best environment to grow up on to prevent respiratory problems and allergic reactions later in life.
This is because children who grow up on farms breath air containing bacterial components which reduces the immune systems reaction to allergens.
The research team says that it is not totally clear why this protection occurs, but they believe that it may triggered by close contact to housed livestock.
The study carried out at Ghent University has moved a step closer to pinpointing why children who grow up on farms have a higher tolerance to allergies.
The researchers behind the study found that the cells which line the surface of the lungs are important in the development of allergy responses.
The study identified the presence of a protein (A20) which affects these cells and the way in which they react to an allergen.
According to the research, the A20 protein does not affect the immune system, but it instead affects the structural cells that make up the lining of the lung.
To validate the experiment, the group of scientists induced dust mite allergies in mice and found that those were exposed to dust from a dairy farm in early life were immune.
The next step of the experiment was to knock out the action of the A20 protein in the lungs of the mice and when this occurred the mice were no longer protected from allergic reactions.
However, the researchers say that an experiment carried out in mice can not definitively provide answers on human health.
And so, they carried out a further study on 2,000 children who grew up on farms.
They found that those who suffered from allergies had a gene mutation which affected the A20 protein, causing it to malfunction and suffer from allergies such as hay fever and asthma.