Study finds children in rural areas have stronger immune systems than urban areas

A new study has uncovered the impact that children’s environments can have on their immune systems.

The report, which was led by APC Microbiome Ireland (APC) and University College Cork (UCC), looked at the differences between children that are raised in rural areas, compared to those who grow up in urban areas.

In its findings, the research noted that children who are raised in rural areas and who spend lots of time outdoors with animal exposure, tend to develop a better immune system than children who live in urban areas.

The report explained how every immune system needs to learn how not to over-respond in a child’s early years, in order to prevent overreactions in adult life that can lead to disease.

With this in mind, the APC and UCC’s research discovered that children's immune systems in countryside areas regularly develop ways of dealing with immune threats.

These responses are as a result of having lots of protective exposures in their early life, such as being outdoors, spending time with animals and being exposed to pollutants and virus infections.

Speaking about the report, UCC Professor Liam O’Mahony detailed how the study’s findings could lead to significant research in the future.

“These protective and detrimental early life environmental exposures help shape our immune response. Growing our understanding of the mechanisms and role of environment on immune development is highly important, and research such as this can help pave the way for new developments in early disease diagnosis and expediting interventions for more specific and safe modulation of immune activity,” he noted.