Since the 1950s, rates of, , , and have soared by 300% or more. Similar graphs depict concurrent spikes in hay fever and food allergies.â€ś [our hyperlinks]
Source : Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 114(7): 1433â€“1436.
This huge increase in auto-immune diseases andhas yet to be convincingly explained.
In 1989 â€śThe Hygiene Hypothesis,â€ť was proposed - the core idea being that early childhood exposure to micro-organisms and parasites etc might stimulate the development of a strong immune system.
Thus it's suggested, in 'Westernised' or 'developed' societies, where hygiene is given a relatively high priority, children's immune systems do not develop properly, and instead turn towards attacking the body's own tissues and structure rather than pathogens.
Thirty years or so after its conception, however, the hypothesis is not as enthusiastically embraced as it once was. Various inconsistencies having been pointed out - see the literature cited above.
Also see :'Time to abandon the hygiene hypothesis: new perspectives on allergic disease, the human microbiome, infectious disease prevention and the role of targeted hygiene' Perspect Public Health. 136(4): 213â€“224.
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