There has been a sharp rise in allergic asthma and asthma-related deaths in the developed world, in contrast to many childhood illnesses that have been reduced or eliminated. The hygiene hypothesis proposes that excessively sanitary conditions early in life result in autoimmune and allergic phenomena because of a failure of the immune system to receive proper microbial stimulation during development.We demonstrate that Abs generated against conserved bacterial polysaccharides are reactive with and dampen the immune response against chitin and Aspergillus fumigatus. A reduction in Ag uptake, cell influx, cell activation, and cytokine production occurred in the presence of anti-polysaccharide Abs, resulting in a striking decrease in the severity of allergic airway disease in mice. Overall, our results suggest that Ag exposure - derived from environmental sources, self-antigens, or vaccination - during the neonatal period has dramatic effects on the adult Ab response and modifies the development of allergic airway disease. Copyright © 2012 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.