Celiac.com 06/19/08 - Today in most modern countries, children are being raised in bacteria-free environments, yet studies are seeing a rising incidence of autoimmune disease and allergies. Previous studies have found that Finnish children are six times more likely to have type 1 diabetes and a five times higher rate of celiac disease than Russian children despite equal genetic susceptibility. Over-cleanliness and life-style may be promoting the higher prevalence of these disorders.

The Diabimmune study, backed by the EU with EUR 6 million in financing, is asking whether by removing all bacteria, we are not actually weakening our children's immune systems. Led by the University of Helsinki, researchers from 5 European countries will collaborate on Diabimmune, a study involving some 7000 children which will last from 2008-2013. The study will focus on the development of the intestinal bacterial