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The hygiene hypothesis postulates that the increased incidence of allergies and autoimmune-mediated diseases, as well as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) observed in recent decades is caused by strongly changing environmental factors. The hygiene hypothesis explains epidemiological data in the context of evolutionary adaptation, genetic predisposition and dysregulated immune responses as a result of lifestyle changes (less contact with farm animals, smoking), intensified medical and sanitary measures (antibiotic use, reduced helminth colonisation) as well as changes in diet (breast feeding, fast food). Understanding the immunological consequences of parasite colonisation, contact with farm animals or breast-feeding may help to develop immunomodulatory therapies as well as preventive measures for IBD. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

Original publication




Journal article


Monatsschrift fur Kinderheilkunde

Publication Date





759 - 765