August 13, 2013 -- A VACCINE to prevent a lethal infectious disease could hold the key to combating Australia's allergy epidemic.
In a world-first trial, hundreds of newborn Victorian babies will receive the tuberculosis vaccine in a bid to boost their immune system and reduce food allergies, asthma, eczema and hayfever.
Melbourne researchers believe the TB jab not only protects against the disease, but it could also inadvertently act as an anti-hygiene vaccine that counteracts children's over-clean start to life.
The vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), was phased out of Australian immunisation programs in the 1980s because TB was virtually eradicated.
But it could make a comeback if the trial reveals it has the capacity to reduce skyrocketing allergy rates.
The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute believes the TB vaccine could have hidden benefits that boost children's immune system, protect against allergic disease and help fight infections.
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