The CCAAPS, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, is a five-year study at UC examining the effects of environmental particulates on childhood respiratory health and allergy development.
UC researchers collected dust samples from each infants primary activity room and analyzed them for indoor allergens, fungal glucans and bacterial endotoxins. They also gathered information about the home, including the presence of any visible mold and water damage. Environmental and food allergy development was monitored through annual skin prick tests.
Scientists say early-life exposure to common microbial componentslike bacterial endotoxins and fungal glucanscan stimulate the bodys immune system to produce infection- and allergy-fighting substances. Because of this, Iossifova says, people should avoid overusing antibacterial sprays and soaps to clean their bodies and homes.
"Certain microbes can have helpful affects in the body," she explains, "but antibacterial disinfectants cant discriminate between helpful and harmful microbesthey destroy them all.
"This eliminates the natural competition among bacteria and fungi, so the surviving microbes are often the infectious ones that can develop resistance to drugs designed to eliminate them."
Iossifova says further research is needed to determine how early microbial exposures affect the development of certain allergic conditionsincluding asthma, dermatitis and hay feverlater in life.