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Exposure to germs early may be helpful

By Carolyn Y. Johnson
Globe Staff / March 23, 2012
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For years, doctors and researchers have made a seemingly paradoxical observation: as people have grown up in cleaner and more sterile environments, allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases have increased. In a paper published online Thursday in the journal Science, a team led by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital reports that exposure early in life to microbes had long-lasting effects on a subset of immune cells and protected against disease later on.

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