Could Childhood Fungal Exposure Boost Your Chances of Developing Allergies?

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Are you among the countless numbers of people who suffer from allergies? Perhaps you have allergies, but your sibling doesn’t — why is this? While information gleaned from a new study doesn’t explain the root cause of why some people develop allergies while others don’t, it does offer insight into one possible explanation: airborne fungal spores.

 According to a new study that was just published on-line in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, coming into contact with certain airborne fungal spores during early childhood could increase an individual’s chances of developing non-fungal allergies later in life.

 The researchers, from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, also added to this finding that some types of fungi could protect against the development of allergies as well. It sounds contradictory, but it’s actually a rather complicated difference between the fungal spores that are harmful and the fungal spores that can potentially be beneficial to your health.

 In a formal statement, one researcher involved in the study noted that the situation was more complicated than anticipated when it came to these harmful versus helpful spores. The study, which involved 144 children, looked at the possible health consequences of exposure to airborne fungal spores. The participants in the study were evaluated and went through a series of skin-prick tests, which targeted 17 possible allergens.

 Next, the children were given a device that samples the air for the duration of 48 hours. This device is called a “button personal inhalable aerosol sampler” (SKC) and it is 100% effective in collecting particles that are a mere one micrometer in diameter (one micrometer equals one millionth of a meter).

 While the researchers found no relationship between the total fungal counts and the positive results from the skin- prick test, what they did find was that there were several significant ties between the health outcomes in the participants and the types of fungi they were exposed to.

 To get specific, the researchers discovered that there was indeed a correlation between the presence of “basidiospores” (a type of airborne fungus) and nasal infections, as well as between other irritants such as “penicillium” and “aspergillus” and the positive testing for any allergen.

 Surprisingly, on the positive side, the researchers also noted that there was an inverse association between having a positive skin test for any allergen and exposure to “cladosporium” (also an airborne fungus). These findings led the researchers to suggest that some types of fungi can increase a person’s chances of developing allergies, whereas other kinds could have a protective effect on the body.

 In order to confirm the findings and make more concrete conclusions on the link between airborne fungal spores — and allergies that are developed early in life — the researchers stated that they would need to follow up on the children in the study. Further research into the link will also be necessary. For now, this could be one finding that may explain the root cause of your allergies.

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