Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Civilization as the Cause of Asthma - Amazing Article

I just happened across this astounding article on the Atlantic Online - absolutely had to share it with you! It's from 2000, but still incredibly relevant and eye-opening. Here's a quote:

Martinez, who came to the United States after launching his career in asthma research, is one of a number of specialists who believe that modern life may be responsible for the developed world's asthma rates -- but in a very unexpected
way. It is not tobacco smoke or pollution that is at the heart of the problem, these specialists believe, but modern hygiene practices and antibiotics that foreclose the need for the young immune system to tackle microbial and parasitic challenges. "Just as you need to use your eyes to develop sight and your legs to develop the muscles to walk," Martinez said, "your immune system develops through its experience. By legitimately protecting our kids from dangerous infections we may have kept parts of their immune systems from maturing."

This could explain why children in the developing world, who are repeatedly infected by bacteria and parasites, are unlikely to contract asthma, whereas children in the developed world, who are inoculated against infectious diseases and frequently given antibiotics, are contracting asthma in ever greater numbers. (Martinez quoted estimates that an astonishing 40 percent of children in the United States are given antibiotics for a period of a month or more in their first year of life.)

Read on. Have your thoughts provoked.


holycownyc said...

I went to the Sahuaro School for Asthmatic Children in Tucson, AZ from 1964-66. We are holding a reunion, July 17-19 2009, for anyone who attended the school. We are excited about the prospect of meeting Dr. Martinez while we are there. He is doing great work! Steve - holycownyc

Aimee said...

Thanks, Steve!

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone,
I am new to this blog and I will definitely save it as a favorite and check back. I just read this article, and in thinking about my son' experience, I will say that I believe that is what happened to him. The drs. still have not officially diagnosed him as asthmatic (one diagnosed him as Cystic fibrosis, before ruling out asthma, needless to say I went and got a second opinion), but his bouts of pneumonia and prolonged colds, and now chronic coughing, all began after his little body was bombarded with various antibotics (via IV and oral) for over a month time span.

I really hope that this study gets more light and is taken more seriously.

Thank you for bringing it to light to us Aimee.