Nature Reviews Immunology 10, 861-868 (December 2010) | doi:10.1038/nri2871

Science and societyFarm living: effects on childhood asthma and allergy

Erika von Mutius1 & Donata Vercelli2  About the authors


Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that children who grow up on traditional farms are protected from asthma, hay fever and allergic sensitization. Early-life contact with livestock and their fodder, and consumption of unprocessed cow's milk have been identified as the most effective protective exposures. Studies of the immunobiology of farm living point to activation and modulation of innate and adaptive immune responses by intense microbial exposures and possibly xenogeneic signals delivered before or soon after birth.

Author affiliations

  1. Erika von Mutius is at the Dr. von Haunersche Kinderklinik Ludwig Maximilians Universität, 80337 Munich, Germany.
  2. Donata Vercelli is at the Arizona Respiratory Center, Arizona Center for the Biology of Complex Diseases and Department of Cell Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85719, USA.

Published online 9 November 2010