Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie,
MD, PhD, Senior Editor.
To the Editor: In his Editorial accompanying
the article of Dr Ownby and colleagues, Dr Platts-Mills1 did
not discuss the hygiene hypothesis2 as an
explanation for their results.
The hygiene hypothesis posits an inverse relationship between the incidence
of infectious diseases in early infancy and the subsequent development of
allergies, asthma, and atopic disease. It is possible that this relationship
may include not only specific infectious diseases in childhood, but also more
general microbial burdens in early life. These may interact with genetic susceptibility
to determine the extent of later atopic disease. The hypothesis has widespread
implications for the increasing number of antibacterial products on the market,
which may paradoxically increase the prevalence of atopic disease.
Ente G. Exposure to Pets in Childhood and Risk of Atopic DisordersExposure to Pets in Childhood and Risk of Atopic Disorders. JAMA. 2003;289(7):841-843. doi:10.1001/jama.289.7.841-a