Let them eat dirt. That joke about building up your kids’ immune systems by letting them get dirty might have some truth to it, a new study finds. Kids in urban areas who breathe in higher levels of dust and dander before their first birthday are less likely to develop respiratory allergies, according to an article released today by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The lesson for parents? There is such a thing as a house that’s too clean.
Close encounters. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke face-to-face yesterday with President Barack Obama and Ukraine’s president-elect in a watershed moment for the Ukrainian crisis. The leaders were all in Normandy, France, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Putin and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko discussed a possible cease-fire and how Russia could recognize the Ukrainian elections, according to an official with French President Francois Hollande’s office. The French official said their 15-minute discussion “included ways to de-escalate, including the manner in which Moscow could recognize Poroshenko’s election, realizing that Putin is sending an ambassador to Kiev tomorrow.”
VA shame. The Department of Veterans Affairs has learned of the deaths of another 18 veterans whose names were kept off official appointment lists. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said he would ask the inspector general to investigate whether those deaths were related to long wait times. The inspector general identified 1,700 veterans last week—the 18 who died were among them—at risk of being lost or forgotten by the VA health care system. The investigation also found broad and deep-seated problems with delays in patient care and manipulation of waiting lists throughout the system, which provides medical care to about 9 million veterans and their family members.
Start saving. Obamacare critics have a new reason to say, “I told you so.” A study by the University of Minnesota has estimated average insurance rates on national health exchanges will increase by more than $4,000 per year per family in the next five years. The study used the government’s own Obamacare enrollment data and was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the next 10 years, the cost of insurance plans will rise more quickly than the government subsidies families receive, leading to more people on Medicaid or uninsured, the study said.
Going for glory. More is at stake than usual in tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes. The horse California Chrome has a shot at racing’s elusive Triple Crown, having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. He’s the 12th horse to reach the Long Island race with wins in the first two legs of the Triple Crown since Affirmed won all three in 1978. The most recent contender was I’ll Have Another in 2012, but the horse was withdrawn before the Belmont Stakes due to a leg injury.