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
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.