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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Nov;108(5):847-54.

Exposure to endotoxin decreases the risk of atopic eczema in infancy: a cohort study.

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  • 1GSF National Research Center for Environment and Health, Institute of Epidemiology, Neuherberg, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Previous studies have shown a protective effect of early exposure to cats and dogs on the development of atopic eczema, asthma, allergic rhinitis, and atopic sensitization in later life. In particular, a higher microbial exposure to endotoxin in early childhood might contribute to this effect.

OBJECTIVE:

We examined the associations between bacterial endotoxin in house dust and atopic eczema, infections, and wheezing during the first year of life in an ongoing birth cohort study (LISA).

METHODS:

Data of 1884 term and normal-weight neonates with complete information on exposure to biocontaminants and confounding variables were analyzed. House dust from the mothers' and the children's mattresses was sampled 3 months after birth. Endotoxin content was quantified by using a chromogenic kinetic limulus amoebocyte lysate test.

RESULTS:

During the first 6 months of life, the risk of atopic eczema was significantly decreased by endotoxin exposure in dust from mothers' mattresses in the fifth quintile (odds ratio [OR], 0.50; 95% CI, 0.28-0.88), whereas the risk was increased for respiratory infections (OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.25-2.28) and cough with respiratory infection, bronchitis, or both (OR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.28-2.33). The risk of wheezing was also significantly increased during the first 6 months of life (OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.40-4.03). For the entire first year of life, these associations attenuated, except for the risk of wheezing, which remained significant (OR, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.10-2.30).

CONCLUSION:

Our findings support the hygiene hypothesis that exposure to high concentrations of endotoxin very early in life might protect against the development of atopic eczema within the first 6 months of life, along with an increased prevalence of nonspecific respiratory diseases.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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