09/09/2014 11:16 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Babies Who Sleep On Sheepskin Less Like To Develop Asthma

Baby Boy on a sheepskin

Babies who sleep on sheepskin pram liners are less likely to develop asthma.

Researchers in Germany found that babies who sleep on animal fur for the first three months of life are almost 80 per cent less likely to have asthma at age six.

It's thought exposing babies to the microbes in animal skins helps them create a healthier immune system.

The findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Munich.

In the study, around 3,000 newborn babies were recruited in Germany 1998 and were tracked as they grew up.

Just over half slept on animal skin in their first three months of life.

Dr Christina Tischer, from the Helmholtz Zentrum München Research Centre, said: "Previous studies have suggested that microbes found in rural settings can protect from asthma.

"An animal skin might also be a reservoir for various kinds of microbes, following similar mechanisms as has been observed in rural environments. Our findings have confirmed that it is crucial to study further the actual microbial environment within the animal fur to confirm these associations."

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Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said: "This research appears to suggest that early exposure to animal fur may reduce the risk of a child developing asthma.

"This is interesting, although previous studies have not shown a consistent impact of exposure to animal fur in early life on asthma outcomes later on. Asthma is a complex condition so we welcome any new research that helps us understand what causes asthma as it brings us one step closer to curing asthma.

"Thanks to researchers at the MRC-Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, we are already looking at ways to develop new treatments for allergic asthma."

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