HEALTH: Brotherly love aids girls' allergies

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The Independent Online
Women who have brothers stand less chance of developing allergies to cats, dust or grass - and the more brothers they have the less chance they have of being allergic, a report said yesterday.

The study by researchers in Bristol and London showed that 26 per cent of women without brothers were allergic to one or more of these factors. But the figure fell to 23 per cent for women with one brother, 20 per cent for those with two brothers, and just 17 per cent for those with three brothers.

The statistics were gleaned from more than 11,000 pregnant women taking part in the Children of the 90s project at Bristol University.

Professor Jean Golding, of the university's Institute of Child Health, said: "We believe that boys may bring more infection into the home than girls and that early infection may protect against allergen sensitivity," she said.