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Crohn's Risk Lower in Children Exposed to Farm Animals

Study tests the association between farm animal contact in infancy and inflammatory bowel disease

MONDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Contact with farm animals during infancy, which is thought to protect against childhood allergies, may have a similar effect on juvenile Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, researchers report in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Katja Radon, Ph.D., of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany, and colleagues conducted a case-control study in 13 children's hospitals in Germany using a mailed questionnaire. The study included 444 subjects with Crohn disease, 304 with ulcerative colitis and 1,481 controls.

The fully adjusted odds ratio for Crohn disease was 0.4 for those with regular contact with cattle. The odds of ulcerative colitis were significantly inversely related to regular contact with cattle (0.3) and cats (0.5). The study also found a correlation between allergic rhinitis and Crohn disease.

"Our study provides new evidence that contact with farm animals, particularly contact occurring during the first year of life, which is one of the most important protective factors against respiratory allergies, might also reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease in children," the authors conclude. "We also found that children with Crohn disease had an increased risk of allergic rhinitis."

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