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Children With Anthroposophic Lifestyle Have Reduced Risk of Allergic Disease

Based on a new study, an anthroposophic lifestyle, which includes things such as a restrictive use of antibiotics and fever antipyretics, reduces the risk of allergic disease in children. The research paper with these findings, Allergic Disease and Sensitization in Steiner School Children, is featured in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

The study focused on more than 6,600 children from five European countries ages 5 to 13 and showed that children in the Steiner schools, who are often raised in an anthroposophic lifestyle, have a lower risk of allergy. The Steiner schools are based on the philosophy of Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Steiner developed the anthroposophic lifestyle in which health is not just a physical issue, but, rather, a combination of mind, body and spiritual balance. His followers integrate modern medicine with alternative, nature-based treatments. The study compared the children raised with the Steiner school philosophy with their non-Steiner counterparts who lived in the same region.

The purpose of the Prevention of Allergy-Risk Factors for Sensitization Related to Farming and Anthroposophic Lifestyle (PARSIFAL) study was to identify possible protective factors for allergy associated with the anthroposophic lifestyle. A previous Swedish study showed a reduced risk of atophy, but the specific reason behind that was not discovered.

Information about environmental exposure, history of infections, diet, animal contact, anthroposophic lifestyle and symptoms and diagnoses of allergic diseases was collected on the children through a parental questionnaire along with a blood sample from the children. All children participating in the study resided in Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

Researchers observed a lower prevalence of current symptoms and lower occurrence of doctors diagnosing rhinoconjunctivitis and atopic eczema and asthma and atopic sensitization in the Steiner school children when compared to non-Steiner children. Early use of antibiotics and fever reducers, along with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination were also associated with increased risks of several allergic symptoms and doctor's diagnoses.

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